[ALT] Bronze Coin
A bronze coin depicting the Emperor Constantine the Great.

[ALT] Ashlar stone with Hebrew inscription
A Hebrew inscription engraved on one of the ashlar stones below Robinson’s Arch, translated as, “You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; their bones like the grass.

[ALT] Byzantine Ophel Wall
The inner face of the Byzantine Ophel wall, looking northeast.

The Byzantine Period (324-638 CE)

When the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337 CE) took over the Eastern Roman Empire in 324 CE, and with the increasingly predominant influence of Christianity in the Byzantine Empire, Jerusalem regained a position of preeminence.

It is believed that major part of the Temple Mount compound remained abandoned during the Byzantine period. The Roman temple had been destroyed and the Christian community had no wish to erect other structures in its place since Jesus had prophesied the complete ruin of the Temple that stood in this location at the time.

In 614 CE, the Persians conquered Jerusalem. The city walls were breached and numerous churches and monasteries were burned to the ground. The Persians ruled Jerusalem for only fifteen years, after which the city reverted to Byzantine control for another eight years, until the Moslem conquest in 638 CE.

The Byzantine Neighborhood in the Ophel

In the 4th century CE, a crowded residential neighborhood was established in the northern area of the Ophel, at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount compound. Churches, a monastery, a hospice, workshops, shops and private houses were built haphazardly before the city wall was built in the 5th century CE.

1. The Inscription on the Western Wall

A consolatory prophecy found in Isaiah 66:14is engraved on one of the stones of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount enclosure. It is suggested that this inscription expressed the sentiments of the Jews who came to rebuild the temple with the permission of the Emperor Julian.

2. The Residential Dwellings

Parts of three densely constructed private residential dwellings were found.

3. An Ancient Cave

A large cave is located below the southern residential dwelling. The cave was initially used as a burial cave in the 2nd millennium BC, but served different purposes in later periods.

4. The Monastery of the Virgins

A monastery was found at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount. The plan of the three-story monastery follows the typical Byzantine period courtyard house plan. Theodosius (beginning of 6th century) describes a closed monastery of virgin (pure) nuns at this area that fits the description and location of this building.

5. The Winery

A two-story high winery was built near the monastery and above the destroyed vaulted rooms that had supported the Herodian street.

6. The Alley of Shops

A row of shops face an alley along the southern side of the Monastery of the Virgins.

7. The Pilgrim's Hospice

A large public, two-story structure containing around thirty very well preserved rooms on the ground floor was found in the Ophel neighborhood.

8. The Ophel Wall and Towers

The city wall built by the Empress Eudocia, in the middle of the 5th century CE, followed the ancient line of fortifications from the First Temple Period. One of its towers rests on top of the Projecting Tower from that period.

9. An Early Byzantine Structure

A structure from the 4th Century CE was exposed next to the Ophel road. It contains many rooms, some of which were used for small industry.

10. The Peristyle House

The ground floor of a large peristyle house, with two rows of columns, was found next to the Ophel road.