PYRAMIDS, PALACES & GREAT BIG WALLS-
Biblical Archaeology & Jewish Ceremonial Art
- SHIBUM, CHIEF OF LAND REGISTRY c. 2600-2350 B.C., Mari, Ninni-Zaza Temple.
| The Sumerians of
early Mesopotamia believed that their principal function in
life was to serve the gods. When they were not actually
praying in person, they left stone statuettes of themselves
before their altars to pray on their behalf. The huge eyes
symbolize awed adoration (windows to the soul), and the hands
are clasped in endless worship. The carving is shown wearing
the typical scalloped sheepskin skirt of that time. Each
Sumerian city had a temple to honour its own patron god.
Houses and ingenious boats were woven from reed
and goods were transported by the first merchants.
- BUILDING SOLOMON'S TEMPLE 958-951 B.C.
drawing by Paul Calle, p.189 Great People of the Bible and How They
Lived, The Readers Digest Association, Inc.1974. Reproduction
Under Phoenician Guidance,
thousands of Israelites labored seven years on Solomon's
temple. The Bible records in 1 Kings 6:7 that “neither
hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron”
was used, but it is believed that flooring, beams and ivory
inlays could have been installed with pegs and the stones
prepared elsewhere, The stones were precisely fitted together
without mortar, and cedar beams were placed at intervals for
strength. One feature of its advanced Phoenician design is a
column capital (foreground in picture), now considered the
precursor of the Ionic style of the Greeks. In the scene an
architect examines some carved
panels which will be placed in the interior.
Solomon's temple - the culmination of all
his building projects - was intended to be the permanent home
of the ark of the covenant. Though not a fragment remains
today it stood for 400 years on a hill, overlooking Jerusalem,
with walls 10 feet thick and crowned with a
battlement, it blended fortress strength with Phoenician
elegance. Two towering pillars of bronze dominated the temple
facade, while the interior walls of cedar were resplendent
with carvings of ivory, gold and wood, The ark stood in the
Holy of Houses, at the feet of two huge cherubim (now
understood to be winged sphinxes with human faces, borrowed
from Phoenician art). These were carved from olivewood.
covered with pure gold and had wingspans of 15 feet. Priests
performed cleansing rituals at an enormous bronze bowl,
mounted on 12 bronze oxen in the courtyard. Animals were
sacrificed on the spacious altar on the right side of the
Solomon's temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's
armies in July-August 567 B.C. by fire. It was rebuilt
but again razed to the ground by the Romans in 70 AD.
- BLACK OBELISK OF SHALMANSER III 858-824
B.C. detail, photograph by Erich Lessing, The British Museum, London,
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser
III, dated 841 BC and discovered in the palace at Nimrod,
shows detailed carvings of Jehu (842-815 B.C.) bowing before
the Assyrian king. It's the only contemporary representation
of an Israelite king.
Jehu is robed and wearing the cloth cap of
royalty. beyind him a Jewish official is holding part of a
huge tribute paid by Jehu in gold and silver.
The inscription reads "Tribute of Jehu,
son of Omri, silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden beaker,
golden goblets, pitchers of gold, lead, staves for the bed of
the king, javelins, I received from him."
- EXILE FROM JUDAH 8th century B.C.
stone relief detail, palace of the Assyrian King - Sennacherib Ninevah,
The Louvre, Paris, Reproduction photograph
Jews are shown being deported
from Judah, after the Assyrian capture of the city of Lachish
in 701 B.C.
- DRAGON OF BEL-MARDUK 604-564 B.C.
detail from the Ishtar Gate, Babylon. Reign of Nebuchadnezzar II,
glazed wall tile, 45 1/2" x 65 3/4", The Detroit Museum of
Arts, Gift of the Founders Soc., Reproduction print
| Nebuchadnezzar, king of
Babylonia from 605-562 B.C. was a tireless builder who made
Babylon the most splendid city of its time. Of eight gateways
in the massive walls, each sacred to a different god, the most
imposing was the huge Ishtar gate, built in honour of the
Babylonian Goddess of love and battle, and rising 50 feet
above a sacred, processional way into Babylon. The walls of
flanking towers were clad in glazed blue bricks, which were
decorated with yellow and white reliefs of dragons, symbol of
the Babylonians' chief god Marduk., and bulls, symbols of the
lightning god, Adad. Baked bricks cemented into bitumen formed
a solid core for the wall, and the foundations went down as
deep as the wall was high. Overlooking the Ishtar gate rose
the famous Hanging Gardens (one of the "Wonders
of the Ancient World"), underground chambers found
this century probably housed the mechanism for raising water
to the gardens.
AHERSUERUS (XERXES) OF DARIUS
THE GREAT (King of Persia) 521-485
B.C. Persian, carved marble portrait, The Louvre, Paris,
JEWISH ART ON LAMPS IN THE TIME OF MISHNA,
c. 200 A.D. Israel museum, Jerusalem, 1970, Poster
TREE OF LIFE late 6th century, mosaic
Caesarea, Israel, Reproduction print
Clay lamps, to light the interior
of homes were fueled with olive oil. The larger opening is to
fill the lamp with oil, the smaller for a fiber wick. The
lamps were both formed by hand and in molds. The motifs here
include palm branches, grapes and a basket, and lamps.
| This mosaic was found
during excavations outside the walls of a 6th century,
Byzantine church. The design is from the story of the Garden
CODE OF MAIMOMONIDES c. 1350,
manuscript page, Central Europe, Jewish Theological Seminary of
America, NY, Gift of Loius M. Rabinowitz, Reproduction photograph
HANNUKKAH MENORAH early 18th century,
Joann Adam Boller (1639-1732), Frankfurt, Germany, Silver with enamel
medallions, 17" H x 14 1/2" W, Jewish Museum, NY, Gift of
Mrs. Felix M Warburg, Reproduction photograph
| Maimonides (1135-1204) was
the greatest Jewish thinker of mediaeval times. He lived in
Egypt and reinterpreted Biblical and rabbinical texts to
include prohibiting only representations of human figures in
relief. Figures of plants, animals and trees were permitted in
clay, stone or wood.
|The depiction of biblical heroes
and heroines was a favorite decorative element in European
Hanukkah lamps. Judith, a Jewish heroine during the Assyrian
invasion was a popular figure, depicted with a sword in one
hand and the head of Holofernes in the other.
ARCHITECTURE IN THE HANNUKKAH LAMP 18th
century, Copper and brass, Morroccan, Israel museum, Jerusalem, Poster
| The design and decoration
of Hannukkah lamps are unrestricted, unhampered by scriptural
RABBI: THE PINCH OF SNUFF 1912,
(1887-1985), Kunstmuseum, Basle, Switzerland, Reproduction print
| Chagall here depicts a
Rabbi with many of the symbols of his office: Star of David, a
portion of a Hanukkah lamp (upper left); scripture on the
table; cap; beard and uncut sideburns. The human quality of
this portrait is achieved by a clever juxtaposition: the
official nature of the respected Rabbi and the recreational
use of tobacco in the form of snuff.
INSCRIPTIONS REVEAL Documents from the
time of the Bible, Israel museum, Jerusalem, Poster
JERUSALEM Birket-es-sultan (Sultan's Pool) 1854,
August Salzmann, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, reproduction print
The Protestant Cemetery. The black line to the
northeast of it showing the position of the scarped
foundation of the wall of Zion.
2. Birket es Sultan, or Sultan's Pool.
3. The traditional Aceldama.
4. Birket Mamilla.
5. The School of the late Anglican Bishop. (Now Jerusalem
ANCIENT GLASS Israel Museum, Jerusalem
ISAIAH SCROLL c. 100 B.C., Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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