Discovered: 2000 year old capital from Solomon’s Portico (photo Vladimir Naychin)

Doric capital found from Solomon’s Portico in the  Holy Temple of Jerusalem…

Doric capital from Solomon's Portico in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem

Discovered! Doric capital from Solomon’s Portico in the Holy Temple of Jerusalem (credit: Vladimir Naychin)

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter, the Paschal lamb sacrifice is a central theme. Here is a recent find from where it all happened 2000 years ago – the Holy Temple itself, that stood on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem! Discovered was a 28” diameter Doric capital from one of the monumental columns of Solomon’s Portico – a 1500 foot long covered colonnade porch that extended along the eastern side of the Temple Mount, and one of four such porticos that enclosed the Outer Court of the Temple.  The beautifully preserved Doric capital, the first find of its kind, was sifted from rubble destructively dug up near the El Aksa mosque by the local Moslem religious authorities and dumped outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls.

Doric capital from the Parthenon in Athens dedicated to the goddess Athena and built in the 5th century BC

Doric capital from the Parthenon temple in Athens (450 BC)

Strength, Simplicity, & Unity
The Doric capital is composed of a flared circle at the top (known as the “echinus) which transitions downward to three concentric circles (called “annulets”).  It was topped by a square slab called the “abacus” upon which the colonnaded portico roof would sit.  The characteristic unity and simplicity of the Doric style can be noticed in the 5th century BC Parthenon in Athens.  Doric columns were fluted and tapered, and considered to be the stronger among the three Greek orders of columns (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian).  For this reason, they would be used in the lower level of multistory structures such as the Roman Colosseum, an amphitheater built by the emperor Vespasian and his son Titus, who destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem just a few years earlier.

Doric style portico in Athens with double columns

Athens Doric portico

About Solomon’s Portico
We read about Solomon’s Portico, where the Doric capital came from, in the writings of Josephus Flavius, a kohen (Jewish priest, descendant of Aaron) who witnessed the destruction of the Temple by Titus the Roman in 70 CE:  And now it was that the temple [in Jerusalem] was finished.  So, when the people saw that the workmen were unemployed, who were above eighteen thousand, and that they, receiving no wages, were in want… they persuaded him [Agrippa, grandson of King Herod] to rebuild the eastern porticos… This was the work of king Solomon, who first of all built the entire temple. (Josephus, Antiquities 20,9,7)

Scale model of Holy Temple Jerusalem with colonnaded portico around Outer Court in Jerusalem's Holy Temple

Model of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed by Titus in 70 AD) with colonnade porticos of outer court

Double row of columns – 42 feet high!
Josephus continues: The porticos [around the Outer Court of the Temple] were double [in width], and the pillars belonging to them were twenty-five cubits in height [~42 feet], and supported the portico. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs [of the portico] were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was quite remarkable. (Josephus, Wars 5,5,2)

Jesus in Solomon’s Portico on Hanukkah
Then came the Festival of Dedication [Hanukkah] at Jerusalem. It was winter and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Portico. (Jn. 10:22-23)

Peter with lame beggar in Solomon’s Portico
While the [healed lame] man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Portico. (Acts 3:11)

Apostles gather in Solomon’s Portico
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Portico. (Acts 5:12)

Come to Israel and discover more about Solomon’s Portico
I invite you to join me here in Israel.  Tour with family, friends, or put together a group and save.  We’ll experience a 3-D living color Bible.  See the Doric capital from Solomon’s Portico and other authentic finds from the Holy Temple.  We can even sift earth in search of artifacts and learn more about biblical Israel.

Shalom! Shalom! Zack Shavin, Jerusalem

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