8) THE MASTER COURSEReal Audio
Tour Guide

You are now standing in front of what many feel is the largest building stone ever used in world history. It's part of a row of stones in the Western Wall known as the Master Course. Click the picture to see the massive scale here.

Some quick stats on the huge stone:

Length: 12.5 meters / 41 feet
Depth: 3.5-4.5 m / 11.5 ft.- 15 ft
Height: 3.5m /11.5 ft.
Weight: Over 500 metric tons.

Focus on the massiveness of this huge stone. Over 500 metric tons! What is truly amazing is that today's best cranes can only  lift 250 tons.

This means, of course, that we will have to totally re-think our understanding of the technology our ancient brethren had when they built the Temples.

Realize that street level of that time was 20 ft. (6.5 meters) below where your (virtual) feet are now and bedrock is some 33 ft. (10 meters) down. How did they lift the stones of the Master Course into position?

One theory notes that the quarry was to the north of the Temple Mount and at a higher elevation. If so, the builders could have pushed the stone into place using levers and pulley systems available at that time...

Why put such massive stones so high up?

Notice that the stones underneath the Master Course are smaller. The Wall was built without any mortar or cement. The massive stones of the  Master Course were used to stabilize the Wall. It was such an effective method that, throughout history, the Wall withstood disastrous earthquakes.

What are the rectangular holes in the giant stone?
Answer

 

Why the smaller stones just above the huge stone?
Answer

Note how the lighting here brings out the classic Herodian stone facing. The inset border around each stone, easily visible on the lower course here, is a trademark of Herod's style.

A quick orientation: We are facing the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The path to our right would leads back to thePast the 'Huge Stone' and on to... Kotel Plaza. To the left and north, following the Wall, we will soon arrive at what appears to be a sealed gate into the Temple Mount...


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