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05-Feb-2018 20:43 by 10 Comments

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Around 19 BCE, as Herod (whose reign spanned from 37 to 4 BCE) was rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, he doubled the size of the Temple Mount and created a large artificial platform.

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The Mishnah (Middot 1:3) mentions only one gate in the western retaining wall, the Kipponos Gate.The present day plaza allows for thousands of visitors daily.Archeological excavations led by Benjamin Mazar with the assistance of Meir Ben-Dov uncovered the first 262 feet of the Kotel after the Six-Day War; those excavations can be viewed today in the archaeological park on the southern end of the Kotel.Turonian and Cenomanian limestone had to be quarried and transported from ancient quarries in Jerusalem (one such quarry is found in the modern-day Russian Compound in the city center of Jerusalem, near Safra Square and somewhat far from the Temple Mount).The stonecutters used sophisticated techniques to loosen and split the stones.Various attempts have been made to identify which of the gates mentioned by Josephus and uncovered by archaeologists this was, but none have been successful.

The upper courses of the Second Temple period wall were destroyed during the War of Destruction (Menahem Av, August, 70 C. The northern wall, the site of many battles, apparently suffered the most damage and might have been completely destroyed.

The southern and eastern retaining walls suffered minimal damage at that time and changes in those walls were the results of developments centuries later.

Excavations of the Western Wall continue from time to time in an effort to uncover the entire Second Temple period history of the site, including that of pre-Herodian times before the Herodian expansion.

Today, it is considered among the most holy and important sites of Judaism and visited annually by millions — religious and secular Jews as well as many non-Jews.

Sacred site or tourist site, it is probably the most famous retaining wall in (Jewish) history.

The remaining 1,050 feet continue underground beneath the streets and houses of the Old City of Jerusalem.