Western Wall Tunnels
Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 30, 2011
This morning a group of us from work went on a tour of the Western Wall tunnels as part of a project celebration. The tunnel network runs along the full length of the western side of the Temple Mount (Har haBayit), close to half a kilometer. The virtual tour on the Kotel Web site has a virtual tour with a map and video clips (runs in Internet Explorer only). Wikipedia has a short article on the history of the excavation. The photo above was taken near the far end of the tunnel, in the Herodian aqueduct.
The photo below shows our group listening to a guide describing the stones. They are photographed in front of the largest stone (just behind their heads), also called the Western Stone: “Weighing 517 tonnes (570), it is one of the largest building blocks in the world. The stone is 13.6 meters (44.6 feet) long, 3 metres (9.8 feet) high and has an estimated width of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet).” It is also described as one of the heaviest objects ever lifted by human beings without the aid of powered machinery.
You can see the incised edges of the ashlar masonry, beautifully fitted together without mortar. It’s really impressive!
A mechanized model of the Temple Mount was used to show how the terrain changed over the years as the area around the portico was filled in and built up during the medieval period.
Two teenage girls pray on the women’s side of Wilson’s Arch.
A very long tunnel…. It runs along the western wall, from the Great Hall to the Herodian street.
The next photo shows the vaulted ceiling over the Herodian street. There are a couple columns in the wall, but it was too small and dark to get a really good photo of the whole room without a wide angle lens, which I hadn’t brought.
Another photo of the aqueduct, this time with some of group for scale.
The aqueduct leads to the Struthion (from the Greek word for sparrow) pool, a water reservoir built by Herod the Great in the first century BCE.