Page images
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

opening has not yet been found, but doubtless will be as soon as the Mohammedans will permit a search to be made.

Josephus says that the Jews hid away from Titus in a cave, and there is room enough in this quarry for the population of the city to have gathered without crowding. The floor is very uneven, with a general descent south, and there are precipices formed by the workmen taking out large blocks below the level of the floor in different places.*

The ground is everywhere littered with chippings and blocks of stone, large and small.

There are great blocks of stone, partly quarried, still hanging to the native mass. One of these was a stone about 10 feet high and between 3 and 4 feet square. The workmen had commenced by cutting a crease upon two sides about four inches wide, and had proceeded until it was about two feet deep on each side of the block. This must have been done with a long pointed instrument having a chisel-shaped end. They had no gunpowder in those days, and seem not to have understood how to split them with wedges, but literally chiselled them out by persevering labor. The work of cutting out this block was nearly completed, for the two grooves, one from the front and the other from the side, at right angles with each other, had

* A few years since a human skeleton was found at the bottom of one of these precipices, showing that some unknown explorer had stumbled over there, and thus perished in a place which thousands of years before was thronged with the busy workmen of Solomon.

been carried nearly to the necessary depth to allow the upright mass to be pried from its bed. The marks of the tool are as perfect as if made yesterday; but the workmen left this, with much more unfinished work, and never returned. Who can tell why? Was it in consequence of an attack on the city from an invading army? or was it found just at this particular time that no more stone were needed?

In proof of this being the quarry from which the stone for the Temple were procured, we have the following facts :-First, the stone is the same in every respect as that of portions of the old wall still remain. ing; second, the immense piles of chippings found in this quarry show that the stone were not only quarried, but dressed and finished here,-corresponding with the account, that they were brought to the Temple ready to be laid without the aid of hammer or graving tool; third, the extreme age of this quarry, which dates back in legends and traditions to the time of Jeremiah; lastly, there are no other great quarries near the city, from which this kind of stone could have been taken. So then this is the place, where nearly three thousand years ago the craftsmen of Solomon prepared the stone for the magnificent Temple of God. It is now a solemn and gloomy cavern; large numbers of bats hang to the ceiling, and, aroused by the approach of the explorer, flit about his head. Occasionally a pile of bones brought in by jackals, arrest his attention, and the giving away of the earth under his feet, indicates the places where they burrowed. Darkness impenetrable and silence profound pervade the place. The grandeur of its lofty



« PreviousContinue »