September 13th 2010
The Archeology Gardens and the Davidson Center
A visit to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park in the Old City provides opportunities to walk in the footsteps of ancient ancestors. With ancient picturesque plazas, the Southern Wall’s holy excavations and the Davidson Center’s virtual displays, the Jerusalem Archaeological Park certainly qualifies as a must-see.
Stroll through the archaeological ruins to soak up the atmosphere of ancient Jerusalem. See where pilgrims would buy provisions and animals for sacrifice at the bottom of the Temple Mount. Money changers provided the pilgrims with the coins they needed for Temple taxes. When the visitors were ready to ascend the Temple Mount, they could use the staircase which protruded from the Southern Wall. This staircase is no longer standing, but the arch which held it up, known as Robinson’s Arch, is still visible.
Learn about the history of Jerusalem from the Canaanite Bronze Age through the First and Second Temple periods, and up until the Christian and Islamic rules. The Archaeological Park covers the area from the Temple Mount on the north, the slope of the Mount of Olives and the Kidron Valley on the east, and the Valley of Hinnom on the west and the south.
The Davidson Center utilizes state-of-the-art technology to follow the history of Jerusalem with visual, textual and audio information. The crowning glory of the center is the virtual reality reconstruction of the Herodian Temple Mount as it stood prior to its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. The center also offers looped screenings of a short film that depicts the scene in ancient Jerusalem during festivals.
The excavated areas include the staircase which led to the Hulda Gates, through which pilgrims would enter the city of Jerusalem. The ruins of a Roman street with its storefronts is littered with enormous stones, presumably thrown off the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed the Temple. Children will enjoy the more “modern” underground passageways and rooms.
Visiting hours are Sundays through Thursdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Fridays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Guided tours can be booked in advance. Only pre-arranged tour groups can visit the virtual reconstruction. On a warm day, organize a picnic lunch to eat under a pergola at the foot of the Southern Wall. Finish off the day with a tour of the City of David, where First Temple history and the Israelite monarchy come to life.