By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich — “King David said to the entire assemblage, “Hashem has chosen my son Shlomo alone, an untried lad, although the work to be done is vast – for the temple is not for a man but for Hashem.” (1 Chronicles 29:1)
Although Wilson’s Arch – part of a bridge that led worshippers to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – was named for British ordinance Surveyor Charles Wilson, a late-19th-century British ordinance surveyor who documented it toward the end of the 19th century – he obviously had nothing to do with its construction. The arch, partially visible to all visitors to the Western Wall, was built some two millennia ago and has been a prominent fixture in Jerusalem’s landscape for centuries.
So who built it and when? Some have thought it was originally constructed around the turn of the Common Era by the Roman king Herod – who renovated the Second Temple, expanded the Temple Mount towards the North, built the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the fortresses at Masada and Herodium – but others had assigned it a later date, believing it was erected in the Early Islamic Period some 600 years later.
Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto and Dr. Johanna Regev of the scientific archaeology unit at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot spearheaded the chronological research of a recent archaeological excavation conducted to solve the riddle of Wilson’s Arch. The excavation, located in the Western Wall Tunnels, was led by archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel, Tehillah Liebermann and Dr. Avi Solomon on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and undertaken by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation as part of the tourist development of the site.
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