July 6, 2009

Quarry Time on Herod's Temple

Apparently the Israel Antiquities Authority has uncovered another Herodian quarry. (h/t RC, natch) Here's the beautiful and surprising part of the quote from Dr. Ofer Sion: "...before Herod built the Temple he prepared the infrastructure for it: the quarrying of the Temple's stones lasted eight whole years. The Temple itself was built in a relatively short time of two years."

I'm thrilled to see somebody counting out years of prep work, but is he citing actual research or are these unpublished conclusions? For his statement to be accurate he must mean quarrying for the whole complex was done in eight years and the sanctuary building went up during two of those early years. Otherwise, if he means the sanctuary stones took eight years to quarry, how did they quarry and build all the rest in time for the Battle of Pentecost in 4 BC, at which time Josephus describes how the collonades and courtyard structures collapsed in a fire set by Varus' Legion.

At any rate, it's great to see a public piece that goes into construction time without the common generalism, "Herod's Temple took about 80 years to complete." I also hope Sion is also right that "Herod began quarrying closest to the Temple and worked away from it". Now I'll wait eagerly to see how far away they find quarrying for the pavement - that being what most likely accounts for the fact there was any work yet to be done under Agrippa II.

If anybody knows what research Sion was citing, please let me know.

Click Herod's Temple in the index below for my old posts on this topic.

UPDATE: Apparently he's just extrapolating from Josephus' Antiquities 15:420 that the porticos and outer courts were built in 8 years. That doesn't mean the corresponding quarrying hadn't been going on for 9 or 10 years or more, but I guess I'm quibbling now. (h/t David Meadows again!)

1 comment:

david meadows said...

[I've posted this at rc as well] ... it seems to be reading into/calculating from Josephus:


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