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The possible lost history of the Dome of the Rock

Discussion in 'Historical Debates' started by Harel13, May 14, 2021.

  1. Harel13

    Harel13 Am Yisrael Chai
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Nov 20, 2019
    Orthodox Judaism
    Been meaning to post this for a few days now, but I've been busy.

    A few days ago I heard an interesting interview on the radio with Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a scholar of Arabic culture from Bar-Ilan University (can be heard here, but it's in Hebrew). According to him, there are some little-known historical records that attest that the Dome of the Rock (that shiny thing above what Jews believe is the Foundation Stone), was actually, originally, the dome of a church in Baalbek, Lebanon, pillaged by the Umayyad Caliphate and brought to Jerusalem. Some internet digging showed that this factoid isn't on Wikipedia. I found mention in this book here:

    "...He [Eutychius] adds that al-Walid removed a gilded copper dome from the church of the Christians in Baalbek and placed it on the Rock, ordering the people to "make the pilgrimage to the Rock."
    The same is written in this book:

    "For the Mosque of Umar (built atop the site of the ancient Jewish temple), a copper dome was pilfered from a church in Baalbek."
    [Apparently some believe that the original Mosque of Omar was the building atop the Rock]

    Also mentioned here.

    According to Wikipedia, the original dome collapsed at some point and was rebuilt. It was covered in gold a few times over the centuries, so I don't know if anything of the original dome is left nowadays.

    Anyway, thought this was an interesting historical tidbit.
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  2. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

    Aug 27, 2013
    ecumenical & naturalistic Catholic
    I visited the Dome twice, once in 1991 and then in 1998, plus I went to the Al Aksa Mosque both times. I was fortunate in that in those years hostilities were quite low. I took a bus on the Palestinian side then and walked from there down to the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Thanks @Harel13 for your OP as it brought back lotsa good memories.

    BTW, I also went on a camel ride, and I don't think my back has been ever the same since. It's not like riding a horse, I'll tell ya!
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  3. Wandering Monk

    Wandering Monk Well-Known Member

    Apr 14, 2019
    I saw an article in Biblical Archaeology Review in the mid-90's that revealed a bit of interesting history: some Jews were allowed to enter the Dome of the Rock and burn incense on a certain day in the early days of Islamic control.

    Earlier that year, there was an article that showed pretty clearly that the Romans built a Temple of Zeus on the Temple Mount that was modeled on the temple in Baalbek. The Baalbek temple had an octagonal feature similar to the dome. In fact, infrared images of the Temple Mount platform show large octagonal foundations just outside the perimeter of the Dome, under the paving.
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