Where are the lithostrotos jerusalem

Jerusalem 2000 years ago

Welcome to Jerusalem from the time of King Herod the Great and Jesus - that is exactly the "Model of Jerusalem at the End of the Second Temple Period" in the Israel Museum.

Before jumping into the hustle and bustle of the old town, I recommend a visit to the Israel Museum. If you come with a tour guide, you will find out everything and a lot more from the guide. If you come here alone, you should buy a small booklet in German about ILS 35 in the museum shop at the entrance that explains the model very well, or you can take the audio guide. Because just following the lettering on the model it gets really "dry".

Hans Kroch

The initiator of this model of Jerusalem from 2000 years ago was the German banker Hans Kroch. Born in Leipzig in 1887, Kroch was only released by the Nazis after he gave up his bank. After his wife was murdered in Ravensbrück, he fled with his son to Argentina, and then to Israel - where his son died in the war of independence.

In Israel, the banker became a building contractor and he founded the Holyland Hotel in the 1950s. "If Jews cannot go to the holy places, the holy places come to them," said Kroch, because Jerusalem was a divided city, the old city was occupied by Jordan, the Jewish quarter and its synagogues there were systematically destroyed by the Arabs.

From 1962 the model was built on the hotel premises on a scale of 1:50 and was inaugurated in 1966, and dedicated to his fallen son. The project was made by the archaeologist of the Hebrew University Prof. Michael Avi-Yonah and his wife Eva, an artist.

Excavations from the 19th and up to almost the middle of the 20th century, as well as ancient sources, including the books by Josephus Flavius ​​"Jewish antiquities" and "Jewish war", but also the Jewish Talmud and the Christian New Testament were consulted by Avi-Yonah .

The model

The materials used were those which, as described in various sources or assumed, were used in Jerusalem 2000 years ago at the time of Jesus and King Herod in the construction of the: Limestone as the dominant material - the quarries for the royal palace and right outside the front door marble for the temple, gold for the holy of holies and for the gates there. Copper, bronze, iron and cedar wood were also used.

Large parts of the Israeli public wanted to see in the model the image of the historical Jerusalem in the 1st century before and until the destruction of the city and the temple by the Romans in the year 70 AD.

Of course everyone asks, is the model really authentic, can we, for example, recognize the exact way of the cross Jesus in it? The unromantic answer from me is unfortunately a resounding no. When designing the buildings and facilities, Avi-Yonah was also guided by ancient sites from North Africa and Europe. It should not be forgotten that the numerous excavations in the old city of Jerusalem - as we know it today - could only be carried out after the 6-day war of June 1967. So the Avi-Yonah couple also had to bring a portion of archaeological and artistic imagination to the model.

Josephus Flavius ​​wrote about the intensive use of marble, since there was or is no marble in ancient and modern Israel if it had to be imported. To date, archaeologists cannot confirm this building material in Jerusalem, so the question remains whether marble was used on the temple and palace. Likewise, the question of whether roof tiles were used in the first century - probably not.

The temple

The temple of Herod, the magnificent building of antiquity, has become independent, and not always in the sense of Prof. Avi-Yonah, later archaeologists and the Israel Museum.

There is a 1: 1 scale temple in the Holyland Experience amusement park in Orlando, Florida, and the striking resemblance to the Avi-Yonahs is no coincidence. The Jewish-Orthodox Chabad movement took the Herodian temple of the model as an image for their dreamed-up Third Temple. Some evangelical and / or politically extreme movements spread representations with the model temple on the Temple Mount instead of the Dome of the Rock. This abuse occurs without the knowledge and permission of the descendants of Hans Kroch and the Israel Museum.

The move to the Israel Museum

With the outbreak of the second Intifada in autumn 2000, tourism in Israel fell sharply. Hans Kroch's grandson wanted to give up the hotel and use the land for a major residential project. Of course, the Israel Museum was thrilled to take over this "eye-catcher". From my point of view, the model comes into its own here much better than under the shade of the trees in the hotel garden.

At the end of 2005 the model was dismantled into 100 parts and assembled in the Israel Museum, with the correct orientation of the cardinal point and the topographical details. The cost of several million shekels was taken over by the descendants of Kroch, and they are the owners to this day - so they have a say in adjustments based on new archaeological findings.

Adjustments to new knowledge

In the more than 50 years of intensive archaeological excavations in the Jewish quarter, on the outer edges of the Temple Mount and the City of David, innumerable new insights have emerged. The question was, and is still today, whether the model should be updated to take this into account and thus be more authentic. Of course, from today's perspective, the model has a number of archaeological "quirks" - only I wouldn't point out some of them to my guests if they didn't notice. You have to be a specialist to recognize this.

In the decades since its creation, there have been corrections in certain places. Even so, the model does not reflect the state of the art in science. Prof. Avi-Yonah himself advocated that the model must be continuously adapted to every new state of knowledge. He himself went with hammer in hand to change walls, bridges and stairs.

Hans Kroch's daughter asked a student of Avi-Yonah to keep the model scientifically up to date after his death. The Israel Museum does not rule out corrections in principle, but emphasizes that the model is not primarily intended to convey an exact picture of the archaeological knowledge of the ancient city, but is a work of art from the time of the divided Jerusalem and the young state of Israel. Just as one sees historical maps today as works of art and not as a source of documentation.

Based on Josephus Flavius, Avi-Yonah created a hippodrome and a theater - a much smaller theater was only discovered not far from the Western Wall in 2018. So the theater on the model is not exactly in the right place and is too big, but maybe there was still a big theater in the ancient city that has not yet been found? The hippodrome was dismantled during the reconstruction in the Israel Museum, because the excavations to the north-west of the city of David show that it could not have been there as shown in the model - where it was located remains an open question.

There is also the question of whether the Antonia fortress was depicted too large. Either is the one dug up Lithostrotos of the Zion's sisters from the inner courtyard of the fortress - then the size is about right, or was it the forecourt of Antonia - then it would be too big. (Incidentally, the Lithostrotos is in all probability from the time of King Hadrian from 135 AD).


Even if the model does not correspond to the latest archaeological findings, a visit is definitely worth it. It makes it easier for the visitor, regardless of whether they are religiously or historically interested, to understand how and what the city of Jerusalem was 2000 years ago. Therefore, I recommend before visiting the religious and archaeological sites in and around the old town. look at the model.

Of course, the Israel Museum also has the first-class archaeological section, the extensive section of Judaica, and modern art indoors and outdoors, as well as the Shrine of the Book. All of these departments are of course included in the entrance fee. Here is the link to the Israel Museum for more information: https://www.imj.org.il/en

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