In this post we wish to follow-up on the work of Dr. James Turner Barclay, medical missionary to Jerusalem in 1851-1854 and 1858-1861, which we have written about here (with other links).
Perhaps Turner’s best known discovery was a gate in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, now known as Barclay’s Gate. Lewis describes briefly the account given by Barclay in The City of the Great King.
While surveying the Haram precinct [which Christians and Jews call the Temple Mount], Barclay noticed a blocked-up entrance, located 82 meters from the area’s southwest corner. The lintel of this gate is below the Maghrabi gate, which tourists use today to enter the Haram from the west. It is above the women’s area of the western wall, just over the stairway that leads into a room on its south side. Only a part of the lintel is still visible. Some time after the gate was filled in, the corridor into which it led was made into a cistern.
Lewis states that Barclay’s discovery was confirmed by Charles W. Wilson, and later by George Adam Smith. He says,
Barclay considered it to have been one of the four gates mentioned by Josephus in his description of the western wall (Jewish Antiquities, book 15, chapter 11, paragraph 5; see Marcus and Wikgren 1963: 199). Benjamin Mazar has identified Barclay’s Gate as the Kiphonos [Coponius] Gate of the Mishnah (Middoth, chapter 1, mishnah 3; see Danby 1933: 590):
Its tremendous single-stone sill, twenty-five feet long and over seven feet high (7.5 x 2.1 meters), rests on the master course of the Western Wall, that is, at the level of the thresholds of several of its gates. The gateway (opening) is 28.7 feet (8.75 meters) high, but the threshold is missing.… Inside the gate, there was once a vestibule which is now blocked by a wall. Behind the wall a passage leads through one or two ancient cisterns with vaulted roofs which are situated under the Haram platform. Before they were converted into reservoirs, they were stone hallways and formed an underground ramp leading in a southerly direction from the Kiphonos Gate to the upper courts of the Temple area (Mazar [The Mountain of the Lord] 1975: 133–34).
I am hopeful that our photographs will make clear the location of Barclay’s Gate for those who wish to get a glimpse of it on their next trip to Jerusalem. The first photo shows the Mughrabi Bridge entrance.
Mughrabi Bridge. Tourists usually enter from Dung Gate and take the bridge up to the only entrance to the platform where the temple once stood allowed for non-Muslims. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Notice where it appears that the bridge reaches the Western Wall. In fact, it makes a right turn to the south, and then a left turn to the east where it reaches the gate. That gate is at the level of the platform where the Temple of Solomon, and Herod’s Temple once stood.
This photo shows the bridge and the structure covering most of the lintel of Barclay’s Gate. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
This photo was made from the Mughrabi bridge and shows the left side (north end) of the lintel of Barclay’s gate marked in yellow.
Photo made from Mugrabhi gate bridge with the north end of the lintel identified. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The next photo was made from ground level over the dividing screen that separates the women’s section of the prayer wall from that of the men. The visible portion of the lentel looks smaller here than in the previous photo. Two ladies are standing on the steps at the entrance into the small room where more of the lentel can be seen.
Ground level view with the northern end of the lentel showing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Leen Ritmeyer has provided numerous drawing of Barclay’s Gate in his books and blog. I recommend that you go there for a better understanding of the gate structure.
- Ritmeyer Archaeological Design. See the post on “Barclay’s Gate in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount” here. This post includes a photo of the central part of the lintel over Barclay’s Gate.
- Ritneyer, Leen & Kathleen. Jerusalem: The Temple Mount. See our notice here.
- Ritmeyer, Leen. The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, pp. 26, 28.
- Ritmeyer, Leen. Understanding the Holy Temple Jesus Knew, pp. 22-23. The drawings and photos in this book are very nice. See our notice here.
Two books that caught my attention are,
- Ben-Dov, Meir. In the Shadow of the Temple, pp. 140-143. Ben-Dov includes a full-page drawing of the gate showing the present level, the Omayyad level, and the Second Temple level. He shows eight layers of Herodian stones below the present level. This work incorrectly identifies Barclay as “an American consul in Jerusalem at the end of the nineteenth century and one of the first scholars of Jerusalem.” Barclay was a medical missionary who lived in Jerusalem on two occasions (1851-1854 and 1858-1861).
- Mazar, Benjamin. The Mountain of the Lord, pp. 133-134. Mazar mistakenly identified Barclay as a “British architect.”
Initially I began with a reference to the following works.
- Lewis, Jack P. “James Turner Barclay: Explorer of Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem.” Biblical Archaeologist 51 (1988).
- Lewis, Jack P. Explorers of Bible Lands. Abilene Christian University Press, 2013. This work includes the essay on Barclay and other biographical portraits by Lewis.
Lewis discusses some of the other discoveries made by Turner.
Barclay’s book is not to be forgotten. The City of the Great King; or, Jerusalem As It Was, As It Is, and As It Is To Be is available in Logos format. It seems to be available only in a 10-volume collection of Archaeological and Theological Studies of Jerusalem. It is also available free at Google Books. I note that a cover of the book shows a drawing of the Temple area, including the “Wailing Place” and nearby an “Old Gateway.”
Added Notes – Sept. 29, 2017
The comment below by Outremer [Tom Powers] was held up by WordPress for my approval, and by some appointments I had. When Tom writes I listen. He always adds something of value. I want you to read the comments in full, but I am including the photos here. I knew that one of them was in Ritmeyer’s blog and for that reason did not include it. And I thought of Todd Bolen’s Historic Views of the Holy Land. One of these photos is in the 8-volume set, “The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection.” Details here.
Here is the first photo Tom mentions.
The “al-Buraq” Mosque “built into the vaulted internal gate passage of Barclay’s Gate.” The dark line on the far wall (left of the photo) is “apparently the top of the lintel” (Powers). Eric Matson Photo, 1940s.
The second photo is shown here.
The “al-Buraq” Mosque, “named for the winged beast of Moahmmed’s legendary Night Journey, is built into the vaulted internal gate passage of Barclay’s Gate” (Powers). Photo by Eric Matson in the 1940s.