Byzantine structureRobinson's ArchThe steps leading to the Gates of Hulda

  • Issue: October 1976
  • Designer: M. Pereg
  • Stamp size: 40 x 51.4 mm
  • Plate no.: 474 - 476
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

Since 1968, large-scale archaeological digs in which large numbers of volunteers from all over the world have participated, have been carried out continuously in Old Jerusalem. These digs have given a great impetus to research on the history of Jerusalem and the additional knowledge acquired during these past eight years has exceeded the accumulated knowledge of more than a century of research. These digs have thrown light on many aspects of ancient Jerusalem and have even enabled us to reconstruct complete periods of the city's history.

This set of five stamps cannot cover all the recent discoveries but in it, an attempt has been made to indicate a number of the major finds.

Archaeological finds fall into two main categories: (a) architecture-city walls, buildings, steps, sections of streets, etc. and (b) objects-tools and implements in daily use, coins, jewellery and other ornaments, etc. The Jerusalem digs have uncovered primarily architectural features, but the number of individual objects found has also been considerable and among them are many which any museum would be proud to own.

The subjects of these stamps have been chosen to illustrate the architectural discoveries relating to different historical periods, but in order not to ignore the smaller objects, the tabs of each stamp have been utilised to portray objects relating to the specific site shown on the stamp.

The stamps show us the sites in their natural state, as uncovered in the course of their excavation. i.e. as ruins or in their archaeological state, while the corresponding First Day envelope depicts a reconstruction of the site in its original state.

"Robinson's Arch"

It is more than 130 years since the well-known American scholar Edward Robinson discovered the remains of this arch. Until now, it had been believed that this arch was one of seven massive arches that formed a bridge between the Upper City and the Temple area in the period of the Second Temple. From an examination of the arch itself and from a study of the adjacent excavations, we now learn that the arch was, in fact, the last link in a system that led up from the main street at the foot of the Temple Mount to the Grand Hall at the south of the Mount, as described by the Jewish historian, Josephus ben Matityahu. This arch was the largest of its kind in classical times and nothing comparable was to be found throughout the whole Roman Empire.

The tab depicts a gem bearing a bowl with fruit and cornucopiae from the period of Herod, while the envelope shows a reconstruction of thin arch in the light of these recent excavations.

top top 

The steps leading to the Gates of Hulda

The principal entrance to the Temple Mount was from the south face, and the south wall incorporated the Gates of Hulda which served as the main gates in the time of the Second Temple. The recent digs succeeded in uncovering the steps leading to the western gate of Hulda. They are no less than 85 meters in width and bear witness to the tens of thousands of pilgrims who flocked to the Temple at Festival time. This find has helped clarify the route taken by these pilgrims on their way from the city's main streets and squares facing the Temple Mount, up to the Temple courtyards. Here too, the very size of the steps leading to the altar distinguishes them as one of the largest of their kind known to exist at the commencement of the Common Era.

The tab shows a clay bowl typical of those used in Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple. This delicate bowl, with its highly artistic floral decorations, is a fine example of the clay utensils which were specific to Jerusalem in Second Temple times.

The envelope shows a reconstruction of the south face of the Temple Mount with its gates and steps, and the streets found at its foot.

top top 

Byzantine structure (8th-7th centuries CE)

in the 6th and 7th centuries there was a residential area at the foot of the Temple Mount and recent excavations have uncovered a number of fine villa-type dwellings. These were each of 2 1/2 storeys and consisted of a central courtyard surrounded by rooms. Many of the rooms were decorated with mosaic tiles and contained provisions for draining off the water and storing it in wells.

Numerous everyday utensils-some of clay and others of bronze-were unearthed in these houses. During the reign of the Christian-Byzantine emperors, buildings, both public and private, flourished in Jerusalem and this residential area uncovered at the foot of the Temple Mount illustrates the high standards of planning and execution associated with the construction of residential areas at that period.

The stamp illustrates one of the houses uncovered in the course of the excavations. The tab shows the arm of a bronze lamp found in this very villa, while the envelope shows a reconstruction of the villa itself.

top top 

Archeology in Jerusalem (I)