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Double Gate, 661-750 CE

Hulda Gate:

hulda

Double Gate Drawing

The Double Gate is one of the gates leading to the Temple Mount. The Double Gate and the Triple Gate are both part of the Huldah Gate in the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. They were built in the Herodian period and were refurbished in the Ummayad period. Today they are both sealed up.

Above the entry of the Double Gate is an ornate, decorative half-arch added in the Umayyad period (661-750 CE). The stones from the original Herodian gate are visible just above the applied Omayyad arch. They include a rectangular lintel beneath several large, undecorated, trapezoidal stones that from the Herodian relieving arch of the gateway.

Shanks, Hershel, Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; From Solomon to the Golden Dome. New York- Continuum, 2007.

The façade of the gate was destroyed and later repaired in the Early Muslim period, as can be inferred from the lintel and the doorjamb, which are decorated with floral and geometric motifs. Set into the gate upside-down, above the east (right) corner of the lintel, is a stone bearing a Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman emperor Hadrian (second century CE).

The entrance tunnel of the western Huldah Gate has been completely preserved under the Mosque. It contains columns bearing capitals and four carved stone domes of high architectural and artistic standards. This area, which is accessible from the Temple Mount enclosure, is not open to the public.

Standing on the staircase and looking east (right) one will see a group of rock-cut, plastered ritual baths, with nearby rock-cut channels covered with stone slabs. The entrance to the system of channels is at the foot of the staircase; some of the channels can be walked along for a distance of some eighty meters. In the Second Temple period these channels, which run in different directions, drained excess water from the Temple Mount. The eastern Huldah Gate area can be reached through the channels.

The arches and walls now sealing the openings of the eastern Huldah Gate post-date the Second Temple period. The only remains of the original Herodian masonry are a part of the threshold and the lowest stone of the western (left) doorjamb. These meager remnants are sufficient to give one an idea of the magnificence of the gateway prior to its destruction by the Romans.

A Hebrew inscription was incised – probably in the Middle Ages – on the original stone of the gate- ברכלב ננ / [ב]ר יוסף ננ מותרף. One interpretation assumes that the person named in the inscription had been cured of an illness and came to offer a prayer of thanksgiving at the Temple Mount walls; the other persons mentioned in the inscription were probably his deceased father and grandfather (the two letters ננ are an abbreviation for נוח נפש, the equivalent of ‘let the soul rest’).

Behind the walls blocking the gate, as in the western gate, there is a tunnel-like passage which led under the Royal Stoa to the Temple Mount precinct. In front of the eastern Huldah Gate, too, there was a monumental staircase, resting on a vault; most of it – which has not been preserved – was built of stone, the remainder was rock-cut. Part of this staircase is scheduled to be reconstructed to demonstrate the full splendor of the southern entrances to the Temple Mount in the Second Temple period.

A large rock-cut miqveh is located under the staircase.

Jerusalem Archaeological Park- The Huldah Gates and the Monumental Staircase

See also-

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