Robinson's Arch

The beginning of this arch, named after the British explorer who discovered it, still stands on the stones of Herod's retaining wall of the Temple Mount. Herod's distinctive style is demonstrated by the massive stones of the courses below the arch. The arch originally extended more than 45 feet from the wall and rested on a large foundation pier that has been discovered. The arch supported a massive staircase that passed over the arch, turned 90 degrees, and descended toward the viewer into the Tyropean Valley below. Above the arch was a high tower on which a priest would blow the trumpet to announce the beginning and end of the Sabbath day. The Roman soldiers dismantled the structures, including the tower, in AD 70, and threw the debris into the street below, fulfilling Jesus' prophecy (Matt. 24:1-2).

The enormity of Herod's project is illustrated by one of the larger stones. It is more than 22 feet long, 40 inches high, and nearly six feet thick. It is dressed (cut) with the distinctive border (margin) and the protruding corner (boss) that Herod used. Stones this size were cut so precisely that they were fit together without mortar. The lower courses, though covered with debris from Roman times, still look nearly new. The channels (cut later) were clay pipes carrying water to the platform above.