Israeli history photo of the week: Sealed Gates

JPost feature: Library of Congress collection of photographs that document Israel before creation of state.

October 18, 2012 13:03
1 minute read.
Sealed Gates of Jerusalem

Israeli history photo of the week: Sealed Gates . (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)


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The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

This summer the Yisrael HaYom newspaper reported on archaeological artifacts found by a British scholar after part of the el-Aqsa mosque collapsed in the 1927 earthquake that struck Palestine. Reporter Nadav Shragai revealed that items from the period of the Second Jewish Temple were found but that their publication was suppressed.

The collection includes two inexplicable pictures dated between 1920 and 1933 entitled "Ancient entrance to Temple beneath el-Aksa." The pictures were taken on the other side of the Hulda Gates, one of the major entrances to the Temple by pilgrims coming from the vast Shiloah (Silwan) pool. According to the Mishna, the gates were used for entering and exiting the Temple complex.

The Hulda Gates date back to King Herod's Second Temple period, perhaps even to Hasmonean times. According to some commentaries, "Hulda" was a prophetess during the First Temple who apparently prophesized around the area where the gates were built (See Kings II, 22:14).

More photos can be viewed at

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