Jerusalem cannot really be said to have entered the
Classical world until the time of Herod the Great in the
last third of the 1st c. B.C. The influence of the Classical
Greek period barely penetrated into Palestine and not
at all into Jerusalem. Palestine was peacefully incorporated into Alexander's empire after the battle of Issus
in 333 B.C. At first it was governed by the Ptolemies of
Egypt, but for the whole century of Ptolemaic rule there
is little evidence of Hellenistic influence. Jerusalem remained the cult center for the worship of Yahweh, and
the old Semitic material culture prevailed. In 198 B.C. it
passed into the hands of the Seleucids of Syria.
The misguided attempt of Antiochus IV Epiphanes in
167 B.C. to substitute the worship of Zeus Olympios for
that of Yahweh caused the revolt under the Maccabees,
which resulted in a virtually independent Jewish kingdom
in the 2d and 1st c. B.C., fiercely xenophobic and opposed
to all forms of Hellenistic culture. The archaeological evidence of this is not only the complete absence of Classical architecture, but also of imported Hellenistic pottery
and its imitations, so common in the N part of Palestine,
for instance at Samaria. Jerusalem thus had no true Hellenistic period. It entered the Roman world with the reign
of Herod the Great (40-4 B.C.), who achieved power at
the expense of the heirs of the Maccabees, and was a
great admirer of Rome and Augustus.
In Jerusalem, Herod's enthusiasm for Classical culture
was severely circumscribed by the orthodox adherents of
Yahweh; it was in other areas that he could build Classical structures, for instance at Samaria and Caesarea. On
the evidence of Josephus, he built a theater and amphitheater at Jerusalem, but no trace of them has survived;
probably such alien structures were outside the walls.
In connection with the Temple and with the area of his
palace, however, there is visible evidence.
The great monument of the Old City of Jerusalem today is the Moslem Dome of the Rock. It stands on a
massive platform which is in effect the enlarged platform
built by Herod for his new Temple. The join between
Herod's masonry, characterized by massive blocks with
slight margins and beautifully flat centers, and that of
the earlier platform can be seen ca. 32 m N of the SE
corner of the platform. The Herodian masonry can be
traced right along the S side and for at least 185 m on
the W face. The whole W face was therefore probably
a Herodian rebuilding, to provide the doubling of the
area predicated by Josephus. Of Herod's Temple itself,
nothing survives. The description of Josephus suggests
that it was purely Semitic in form and decoration, but
with some Classical elements in the architectural features.
Of Herod's other buildings, the only certain element
to survive is a part of the three towers on the W of the
two ridges covered by later Jerusalem. The main tower
of the modern citadel adjoining the Jaffa Gate is today
called the Tower of David, but its lower courses are unambiguously Herodian, and it is probably the tower
Phasael of Herod.
Josephus states that the Temple platform and the W
ridge were connected by a bridge. Two arches spring
from the platform wall. That known as Robinson's Arch,
a little N of the SW angle, has been shown by excavations possibly to be part of a staircase from the S. Perhaps, therefore, the bridge was on the line of Wilson's
Arch, 185 m N of the corner. Excavations in progress
since 1967 have added details of adjacent streets and the
approach to the Temple from the S.
The N wall of Herod's Jerusalem is probably the second north wall described by Josephus. Excavations have
provided a clue to its line. Its terminal to the E is the
fortress Antonia, built by Herod at the NW corner of the
Temple platform to replace the Maccabean tower Bans.
The general position of Antonia is certain, but the association with it of a pavement in the area of the Convent
of the Sisters of Sion, which it is claimed is the lithostratos of the Gospels, has been disputed with some cogency.
Evidence suggests that the wall turns S to join the earlier
wall about halfway between the Temple and the citadel,
which would mean that the traditional sites of the Crucifixion and of the Holy Sepulcher were outside the contemporary wall.
The relatively independent rule of Herod the Great
broke down owing to the inadequacies of his successors,
and direct rule from Rome followed. A brief acknowledgment of the influence of native leaders comes with the recognition of Herod Agrippa I as the ruler of a relatively
minor area centered on Jerusalem. The official period of
his reign is A.D. 40-44, and he seems to have accomplished quite a lot.
To the S of the city and beyond the present Old City
extend the spurs of the two main ridges upon which
Jerusalem is built. The original town was on the E ridge,
but later, probably only in the Maccabean period ca. 100
B.C., the greater part of the W ridge was included within
the city. Excavations indicate that only at the time of
Herod Agrippa was a complete circuit joining the two
ridges established. The surviving evidence of Herod
Agrippa's extension to the S is not architecturally impressive, for very little survives. On the evidence of Josephus,
Herod Agrippa also extended the city to the N, for he
built the third north wall of Josephus. Excavations have
proved that there is, under the present Damascus Gate, a
part of a gate in Roman style that can be stratigraphically
dated to the mid 1st c. A.D. It is quite certain that there
was here an extension of the town, with a gate built in
masonry of Herodian type, at this period.
The final stage of the First Revolt of the Jews was the
siege of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70. It is probable that
the wall of circumvallation built by Titus is to be identified in a wall ca. 200 m N of the Old City, constructed
of enormous ashlar blocks, originally of high quality,
but battered and obviously reused. When Jerusalem eventually fell to Titus, the city was destroyed. Only the
great walls supporting the Temple platform and the towers of Herod's palace survived. Titus left the Legio X
Fretensis to guard the ruins. On the evidence of Josephus,
the legionary headquarters were in the area of Herod's
palace on the W ridge, and the towers of the palace
formed part of the defenses. No remains of the headquarters have been found, and the only evidence of the
presence of the legion in Jerusalem until ca. A.D. 200 is
the large number of bricks with its stamp.
The second revolt of the Jews led Hadrian, in A.D. 135,
to complete the abolition of Jewish Jerusalem by substituting for it Aelia Capitolina. The S part of the site,
including all of Davidic Jerusalem and the greater part of
the city of subsequent periods, was left outside the walls,
and much of the whole area was quarried to provide
stone for the new town.
The best evidence for Aelia Capitolina is the street
plan of the present Old City, the antiquity of which is
shown by the Madaba mosaic of the 6th c. A.D. The N-S
axis was a colonnaded street running S from the Damascus Gate; portions of the columns survive in shops adjoining the present street. There was no E-W street crossing the whole city, for the great mass of the Temple
platform made this impossible. The main E gate was that
now known as St. Stephen's Gate; the main W gate,
shown by the line of the present David's Street, was approximately on the site of the present Jaffa Gate. The
streets from both gates connected with that from the
Damascus Gate. On the line of the street from the E gate
was a triumphal arch, part of which survives in the Convent of the Sisters of Sion, and part is still visible in the
street today. Good reason has been given to suggest that
the pavement, shown to visitors as part of the lithostratos
of the time of the Crucifixion, is contemporary with the
arch, and forms part of a small forum. The main forum
may be adjacent to the present Church of the Holy
Sepulcher, but nothing is visible today.
The street plan shows that there must have been a gate
on the site of the present Damascus Gate. In a rebuilding
of the arch over the E pedestrian entrance of the Herod
Agrippa gate is a stone with an incomplete inscription
certainly referring to Aelia Capitolina. It is not exactly
in situ, but may have been only slightly displaced in
Ommayad times. The evidence of the street plan suggests
that it can be accepted as belonging to the original gate
of Aelia Capitolina.
Probably the S wall of Aelia corresponded closely
with that of the present Old City. The area immediately
E of the present Dung Gate forms a salient from the
Herodian Temple platform. The wall here is certainly
post-Herodian and grandiose in its masonry. There is no
exact evidence, but it seems probable that it belonged
to the S wall of Aelia Capitolina. Certainly there is nothing Roman (pre-Byzantine) to the S.
There is little evidence concerning the history of Aelia.
The city regained its importance with the conversion to
Christianity of the Emperor Constantine, and by the 5th
c. A.D. had expanded once more to the S. Remains of the
Constantinian church can be identified beneath the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The city fell to the Arabs
in A.D. 638.
Museums: Palestine Archaeological Museum (Rockefeller Museum) N of the Old City; Eretz Israel Museum
in W Jerusalem.
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews
War of the Jews
, trans. W. Whiston, ed. D. S. Margoliouth (1906); L. H. Vincent & F. M. Abel, Jérusalem, Recherches de Topographie, d'Archéologie et d'Histoire
. II. Jérusalem Nouvelle
(1914-26); K. M. Kenyon, Jerusalem: Excavating 3000 Years of History
(1969); id., Digging up Jerusalem
(1974); J. B. Hennessy, “Preliminary Report of Excavations at the Damascus Gate,”
2 (1970); P. Bénoit, “L'Antonia d'Hérode le
Grand et le Forum Oriental d'Aelia Capitolina,” HThR
64 (1971); B. Mazar, The Excavations in the Old City
of Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount
(1969). Preliminary report.
K. M. KENYON