Near the Temple Mount there is a site where archaeological finds dating back to the First Temple period are displayed.
The most important and fascinating finds date to the Second Temple period.
The earliest find is dated to the First Temple period, to the time of King Solomon in the 10th century BC. This find includes the city wall itself, a tower, a royal edifice and above all, a gatehouse.
The site is a special gem, and is a stunningly beautiful place to visit. Before or after visiting the Davidson Center, you can enjoy a coffee and a pastry at the entrance to the site.
Fascinating and exciting finds from the Second Temple period were discovered near the Western Wall and the Southern Wall (yes, there is a Southern Wall, too). A wide, impressive street that was Jerusalem’s main street during the Second Temple period was discovered near the Western Wall. Everyone walked on this street, including pilgrims, tourists, and some of the most prominent Jews of the period, such as the sages Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Akiva. And you too, if you come to the Davidson Center, can walk on the very same pavestones. If you use your imagination, you can feel the atmosphere of thousands of Jews walking down this street 2000 years ago, all in a state of ritual purity and quivering with excitement, right before they entered the Temple Mount.
Huge stones that were knocked from the walls of Temple Mount fell to the street and remain lying there to this day. A massive arch leading to the southern section of the Temple Mount used to rise over the street, and traces of it can still be seen on the Western Wall. Stones from this arch also fell to the street and created a large pit.
Under the street, an impressive drainage channel was revealed, and a number of amazing artifacts from the very days of Jerusalem’s destruction were found. This channel is where Jerusalem’s fighters fled in their attempt to escape from the Roman army.
Near the Southern Wall, you will climb the staircase through which the pilgrims entered the Temple Mount. Stepping on these ancient stairs evokes a shiver of excitement when you visualize yourself walking in the footsteps of all the people who went up this very same way to reach the Temple.
The Davidson Center has a museum with displays of archaeological finds from the excavations at the site. There is also a spectacular three dimensional model of Second Temple period Jerusalem, through which visitors can tour the ancient city and join a pilgrim on his way to the Temple. You can walk through Jerusalem’s streets with the pilgrim, purchase a sacrificial animal, immerse in the mikvah (ritual immersion bath), and go up to the Temple Mount. Through this unique 3D model, you can fully visualize the experience of making pilgrimage to the Temple.
Many of the buildings in the vicinity of the Davidson Center date from the Byzantine period, when there was a surge in construction in the area. Among the ruins of one of the Byzantine shops, a treasure was found: a large gold medallion with a Menorah relief and other Jewish symbols. Many gold coins were found as well. What makes this particularly interesting is the fact that during the Byzantine period, Jews were not allowed to enter Jerusalem.
The remains of Umayyad palaces of impressive size from the early Muslim period were also found. The most important of these palaces had a bridge that connected its top story to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, serving as the Sultan’s personal passage to the mosque. A massive earthquake in the year 749 caused these buildings to collapse, and they were never rebuilt. The remains of the palaces are strewn all over, and can be seen from the moment you enter the site.