A three dimensional computerized model of the Temple Mount and the nearby streets and buildings as they appeared 1,300 years ago during the Early Islamic Period is going on display at the Jerusalem Archeological Park next to the Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday.
The virtual tour will allow visitors to see the capital as it appeared during the eight century CE, during the Umayyad Caliphate.
"This model represents our cultural, ethical and scientific obligation to relate to all the cultures that existed in the Land of Israel," said Yuval Baruch, the Israel Antiquities Authority archeologist who built the model.
He described the period as the "shining era" of Islam, and noted that the tourist center housing the model was located inside the remains of one of the Umayyad buildings adjacent to the Temple Mount.
The interactive model presents the magnificence and intensity of the Umayyad buildings, and shows how the Temple Mount compound was renovated some 630 years after its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE. It also presents the mosques on the Temple Mount, and allows visitors to discover what the city's main road - the Cardo - was like at the time.
The model, which was constructed together with the Department of Urban Architecture of the University of California at Los Angeles, will be open to those visiting the center within six weeks, Baruch said.
Its cost was in the tens of thousands of dollars, he said, which was made possible through a donation by the Davidson Family, who also established the center.
The Jerusalem Archeological Center, which also has an interactive model of the Temple Mount during the Second Temple Period, has become one of the city's top tourist destinations since it opened five years ago.
About 200,000 people visited it last year, 60 percent of whom were foreign tourists, said Gideon Shamir, the director-general of the East Jerusalem Development Company, which operates the site.
Archeologists said a model of Jerusalem during the Crusader Period is being planned for the site in the future, with organizers currently looking for a donor.
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