The Israel Antiquities Authority and the East Jerusalem Development Company, Ltd. will allow the public to embark on a virtual tour of the Umayyad streets and buildings adjacent to the Temple Mount as they once existed during the period of the Umayyad Caliphate – the time of Jerusalem’s first Muslim rulers.

On October 16, 2006 the Israel Antiquities Authority and the East Jerusalem Development Company, Ltd. are unveiling a computerized three dimensional model that will allow visitors to go back in time and walk among the streets and buildings next to the Temple Mount, as they appeared in the eighth century CE, during the rule of the Umayyad caliphs – the first Muslim rulers of Jerusalem.
 
The model will be open to the public visiting the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center, located in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden – a center which is built inside the remains of one of the Umayyad buildings adjacent to the Temple Mount.

The model, notes Gideon Shamir, director-general of the East Jerusalem Development Company, constitutes a technological and conceptual breakthrough on a world class scale in the way of presenting and exhibiting archaeological sites. According to Gideon Shamir the model makes it possible to tour the ruins in real time as they were during the Umayyad period.

The interactive model presents the magnificence and intensity of the construction of the Umayyad buildings and shows how the Temple Mount compound was renovated some 630 years after its destruction by the Romans. It also presents the mosques on the Temple Mount and allows visitors to discover what the cardo – the city’s main road flanked on either side by rows of shops and public buildings – was like. This road served as a focal point where the city’s thriving economic and social affairs took place during the different periods.

Yuval Baruch, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquties Authority, said that the model is built based on finds from extensive archaeological excavations that were conducted in the area southwest of the Temple Mount, where four large buildings dating to the beginning of the eighth century CE extend across an area of approximately 200 dunams. These are the official buildings of the Umayyad caliphs. The Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center was built in the foundation level of one of these buildings where we will today present the first interactive model of its kind in the world.

Shuka Dorfman, the director-general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, states that the model is a mean to study one of the most fascinating periods in the history of Jerusalem. “Today, some five years after the inauguration of the center in which there is an interactive model of the Temple Mount at the time of the Second Temple period, and after hundreds of thousands of tourists and students visited the place, we are launching another model that deals with the Temple Mount during the Early Islamic period”, he added.

 
The model was constructed by Yuval Baruch, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, and Dr. Lisa M. Snyder, of the Department of Urban Architecture of the University of California at Los Angeles, and was made possible through a donation by the Davidson Family who established the center.
For further details please contact:
Yuval Baruch – 052-4284457 / Moshe Bagaon: 050-5737288
For High-resolution images please contact Osnat Goaz 052-4284447