Archaeologists recreate tiles from the temple the place Jesus walked


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli archaeologist Assaf Avraham is polishing a replica of the floor of the Roman-era Jewish temple near the old city of Jerusalem

By Rinat Harash

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – As Jesus walked through the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, his feet encountered hewn, earth-colored stone tiles that were geometric and cool, speckled, and worn to the touch.

This is the understanding of Israeli archaeologists and masons, who used relics and historical texts to recreate the sacred ground so that it can be experienced today.

"We even made the scratches and all kinds of markings that looked the same as they did then," archaeologist Assaf Avraham told Reuters near the one-square-meter, ankle-high replica on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem's old town and holy sites .

According to the New Testament, Jesus went on pilgrimage and study to the temple as a boy and, as an older preacher, angrily threw out his money changers. The Gospel of John describes him as "walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon".

The temple was designed by King Herod, as were other great structures in Roman Judea. Surviving tiles from these ruins told archaeologists what materials had been used – handcrafted Dead Sea limestone and stone, as well as imported marble – and that the inlay was of the ornate "Opus Sectile" style.

Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian of the period, wrote that temple courtyards were "laid with stones of all kinds," another indication that the tiles were of different colors and textures.

Restoring the soil was "very hard work" that took seven months, said Avi Tavisal, manager of the artisan team.

"But it was very interesting and we did it with all our hearts," he said. "We hope that people can come and see and feel and touch and feel like it was 2000 years ago."

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