Temple's location found, says Israeli archaeologist

Study of ancient cisterns pinpoints sacred site,

– Muslim Dome of the Rock outside confines


Posted: February 11, 2007

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Using maps created in 1866 by a British explorer and passages from the Jewish Mishnah, an Israeli archaeologist and professor at Hebrew University says he has pinpointed the location of the sacred Jewish Temple, twice built and twice destroyed in ancient times.

While popular consensus places the Temple, built by King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. and rebuilt by Jews who returned from Babylon in the 5th century B.C., on the site of the present Muslim Dome of the Rock, Prof. Joseph Patrich says archaeological remains show its exact location – and the consensus is wrong.

Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, facing west.

According to Patrich, the Temple, its corresponding courtyards, chambers and gates were oriented in a more southeasterly direction, sitting diagonally on what is the modern Temple Mount. The difference in orientation and the placement further eastward varies from the east-facing orientation of other scholars who believe the Temple was closer to today's Western Wall.

However, that difference is why, Patrich says, the Temple did not sit over the rock believed by Jews to be the site where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac and where Muslims believe Muhammad ascended into heaven.

Patrich's siting of the Temple is derived from information collected by British engineer Sir Charles Wilson in 1866 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund. Wilson mapped a series of ancient cisterns below the present Temple Mount platform. One of those, Patrich says, preserves a vestige of the Temple that stood until it was destroyed by Rome in A.D. 70.

The cistern mapped by Wilson, approximately 15 feet wide, 170 feet long and 45 feet deep, was located near the Temple Mount's southeast corner. It was oriented in a southeasterly direction with branches extending north and south.

Patrich's reconstruction of Temple in 1st century A.D., facing northeast. Courtesy Hebrew University. (Drawing by Leen Ritmeyer)


"Until now no one has ever thought that the location of the cistern on the Temple Mount and its unique shape were derived from the shape and location of the altar and sanctuary," Patrich told YNetNews.

According to the archaeologist, this cistern is the only one found on the Temple Mount that corresponds to descriptions in the Jewish Mishnah – the rabbinic oral tradition compiled in the 3rd century A.D. – of daily purification and sacrificial duties carried out by the priests on the altar in the Temple courtyard.

The Mishnah says water was drawn by a waterwheel mechanism from a cistern and held in a large basin, or laver, for daily purification by the Temple's priests before they ascended the nearby ramp to the altar to offer sacrifices.

Patrich's reconstruction of Temple in 1st century A.D. overlaid on modern Temple Mount. Octagonal feature is Dome of the Rock. Diagram is oriented east up. Courtesy Hebrew University. (Drawing by Leen Ritmeyer)

Patrich believes the placement of the waterwheel and laver can be reconstructed from Wilson's map of the giant southeast-trending cistern and from that, the location of the altar and the Temple itself.

Patrich's siting has the Temple further east and south of locations proposed by other scholars and diagonal, rather than perpendicular to the Temple Mount's eastern and western walls. It also leaves the rock in the Dome of the Rock outside of the confines of the Temple itself.

Patrich said his research on the Temple's location is strictly academic, and political connotations should not be attributed to it.


Note Added: Professor Joseph Patrich bases his findings on a study that was done in 1866 by the British engineer Sir Charles Wilson for the Palestine Exploration Fund, in which he mapped all the water cisterns in the Muslim compound (Haram Al-Sharif), including the cistern under discussion- cistern no. 5. According to Patrich, "Until now no one has ever thought that the location of the cistern on the Temple Mount and its unique shape were derived from the shape and location of the altar and sanctuary."


"We are talking about a cistern that is 15 meters deep, with remarkable carving and with an extraordinarily unusual shape. Its passageway is 4.5 meters wide and 54 meters long with shorter branches extending south and north," explains Professor Patrich.


The Mishnaic Version vs. The Babylonian Talmud

Examining the location and the unusual shape of the cistern and studying the description in the Mishna led Professor Patrich to the conclusion that the cistern in question is the cistern from which water was drawn daily for the basin in the sanctuary, during the daily ritual ceremony that occurred before dawn.


During this ceremony, the priests officiating in the sanctuary were required to wash their hands and feet with water from the basin, before going up to the altar. Water from the previous day that was left in the basin overnight was invalid for this purpose. Every day, fresh water from the cistern was required for this ritual. According to the Mishna, a sophisticated mechanical waterwheel drew the water. The shape of the cistern allows for the mechanism of a waterwheel.


According to Professor Patrich, this evidence allows one to pinpoint the exact location of the laver that the priests used in their daily ritual, and the altar ramp that was next to it.


The exact location of these in relation to the cistern under discussion, allows for the first time to locate the Holy Temple itself with its gates and chambers, in accordance with what is written in the Mishna. The conclusion from the research places the sanctuary more east than was previously thought, and at a southern angle, not perpendicular to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which was the common opinion. This location leaves the Muslim Dome out of the confines of the Holy Temple.


The conclusions of this study reconcile the contradictions between the Mishnaic text (Midot 5, 3-4) and the Babylonian text (Yoma, 19a) regarding the northern and southern chambers. The study posits that the Mishnaic text is the correct one, in contradiction to many commentators, first and foremost Maimonides. In light of this, a revised plan can be drawn up of the Azarah -- the courtyard around the sanctuary -- with its gates and chambers. Many commentators and researchers have also deliberated this matter. (from Ynetnews  February 12, 2007). For a detailed map of cisterns under the Temple Mount see http://www.jerusalem-4thtemple.org/images/temple-maps/Haram Underground Hydraulic System.pdf



1. Personal Details

Prof. Joseph Patrich

Office Address: Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus
Tel. #972-2-5880053 (office)
 972-4-6441626 (home)
 Fax #972-2-5825548 (office)
 Email: patrichj@mscc.huji.ac.il

2. Higher Education

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology. Archaeology of Israel, the Hellenistic,
Roman and Byzantine periods.
 M.A. 1981 (summa cum laude).
 Ph.D. 1989 (summa cum laude).

3. Academic Ranks and Tenure in Institutions of Higher Education

Date-- Name of Institution--Rank

1983-88 Hebrew University, Jerusalem Ph.D. student Research Fellow

198490 University of Haifa, Archaeology Instructor

1990- Senior lecturer

1991- Tenure

1991-2 Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Studies Research Fellow

1995 University of Haifa, Archaeology Associate Professor

1995-6 Institute for Advanced Studies of the Research Fellow
Hebrew University Jerusalem

1998-9 University of Miami, Coral Gables Visiting professor
 Dept. of History

Feb. 2001 École Pratique des Hautes Études,Directeur d études invité
Section des Sciences Religieuse, 
Sorbonne, Paris

Sept. 2001-Center for Advance Studies,Group Coordinator (together with
 Feb. 2002 University of Haifa Prof. A. Raban) and Research Fellow

Oct. 2002 Hebrew University, Jerusalem Full Professor with tenure
Institute of Archaeology

4. Offices in the university, academic administration

 1993-5 Chair of the Department of Archaeology, University of Haifa 

1995-8 Board of Directors Member, Hecht Museum, University of Haifa

1997-98 Board of Directors Member, Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa.

1996-98 Member in the M.A. Studies Committee of the Department of Archaeology, University of

1995-2000 Member of the Haifa Univ. and Yad Yizhak Ben Zvi Center Committee.

2000-2002 Member of the Computer Committee, Faculty of Humanities, University of Haifa.

2001 Irgun_Hasegel HaBachir Committee member, University of Haifa.

Oct. 2002- Member of the Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2003-Chair, Computerization Committee, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University of

5. Scholarly Positions and Activities Outside the University.

198388 Head of archaeological survey of caves in the Judean Desert, on behalf of the Institute of
Archaeology of the Hebrew University.

198694 Archaeological Excavations of caves in the Judean Desert (AlMatzaia, caves near Kh. 
 Qumran, lower Wadi Makukh).

1992-95 Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal Michmanim, Hecht Museum, University of

1993-98 Co-director of the Combined Caesarea Expedition, University of Haifa (together with
Prof. Avner Raban, the University of Haifa, and Prof. Kenneth Holum, the University of
Maryland, USA).

1994- 2000 Member of the Board of Directors of the Project for Promoting Tourism to Caesarea,
 and of the Project s Committee for Planning and Development.

1997- Member of the Editorial Board of Yad Yizhak Ben Zvi Publishing House, Jerusalem.

1998- Member of the Israel Council for Archaeology.

1998 Initiator and organizer of: The Sabaite Heritage: The Sabaite Factor in the Orthodox
Church - An international Symposium, Jerusalem and Haifa, May 24-30, 1998

‏1999-Member of the Israel Exploration Society Council.

2003-Chair, Conservation Committee, Israel Council for Archaeology.