The Davidson Center – Archaeological Park
Nearby the Dung Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City walls is The Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Davidson Center. Due to it being in such close proximity, the park encompasses the southern part of the Western Wall and the southern retaining wall of the Temple Mount, as well as other excavations in the area.
Amongst an impressive exhibition that highlights historic events, the park also holds archaeological remains found at the site – spanning around 5,000 years from the Canaanite Era (Bronze Age) to the Second Temple Period. Most notably, the park houses significant finds from the Second Temple Period whereby Jews would prepare to enter the Holy Temple, taking part in ritual baths. After, they would purchase an offering and make their way to the Huldah Gates which would lead them to where the Second Holy Temple was based – exactly where the Dome of the Rock stands today.
However, the earliest remains in the park are said to have links to the reign of King Solomon (10th century BC).
More information can be found below:
The remains of the Temple Mount which can be seen at the Davidson Archaeological Park were left behind when the Romans destroyed the Holy temple in 70 AD. Christian structures were also built during the Byzantine Era, along with Al-Aqsa Mosque (705 AD) and the Dome of the Rock (691 AD) which were built in the 7th century when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem.
Sites within the Davidson Center Archaeological Park
Herodian Street: Dating back more than 2,000 years, a wide Herodian street can be found at the base of the southern wall of Temple Mount. It is said to have been Jerusalem’s main street during the Second Temple Period.
Robinson’s Arch: Coined by 19th-century archaeologist Edward Robinson, Robinson’s Arch encompasses the remains of an arch protruding from the southern wall, spanning the Herodian street and leading to Temple Mount.
Temple Steps: Impressively, visiting the park means that you can walk up the original staircase which leads up to Temple Mount. The original steps are still as the pilgrims experienced them 2,000 years ago.
Huldah Gates: The Huldah Gates are three gates that have been sealed upon the southern wall, used to enter the temple, similar to those on the western side which were used for exit purposes.
Byzantine gold coins and the remains of Umayyad palaces were among other artifacts and archaeological structures that were uncovered. One of these palaces was, in fact, connected to the Al-Aqsa Mosque via a bridge, which would have given the Sultan direct access. These structures built in the Muslim Era were destroyed by an Earthquake in 749.
Davidson Center Exhibition Area
The indoor museum exhibition, mentioned above, is a huge part of the archeological park. It’s housed in the former storerooms of the Umayyad palace, with the original structure being converted using sleek glass and metal interior.
You can also find uncovered artifacts as well as illustrations and media that are brought to life through technology. For example, visitors can experience a 3D model of the Second Temple Period of Jerusalem and feel like they are embarking on a journey to the Temple.