Jerusalem Paper #2 Final Draft - University of California...

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University of California, Los Angeles Conflict and Compromise: The Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount Richard Page AN N EA 10 – Jerusalem: Holy City Professor Alice Mandell TA Adam DiBattista 17 May 2016
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Page The soaring golden cupola seems ill at ease high above the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, its gleaming lapis tiles marching in intricate formations in wild contrast to the pale desert sandstone of the city below. The Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest monuments in Islam, is a Muslim intruder in a city long defined by older faiths, and it doesn’t fit in. Built upon a spot of convergent religious significance for the three major monotheistic religions, the Dome is a symbol of Islam as the ultimate culmination of Christianity and Judaism; the Dome, like the religion it represents, is the result of and response to traditions it had no part in establishing. It is a conquest of the hill and the city by Muslim usurpers. At the same time, it is also an extension of the legacy of Christianity, Judaism, and the Temple of Solomon, a powerful emblem of the enduring power of the Zion mythology and traditions. A monument to Islam but also to the complicated, shifting identity of sacred space across time and culture, The Dome makes for a challenging icon. The Dome of the Rock’s construction was an act of both cultural warfare and cultural exchange, and its architecture, history, and sacred dimension are all testament to the conflict inherent in its conception. While the Dome of the Rock was not constructed on the Temple Mount until between 687 and 691, its history as a sacred space actually began long before. The Dome exemplifies Tweed’s concepts of kinetic space, where spaces are “processes, not things… they change over time,” and differentiated space, where spaces are “particular space[s]” or “specific locale[s]” as defined by individuals’ conceptions of such spaces (Tweed 117-120). The Temple Mount began as a nondescript hill, which became differentiated when it was conflated with Mount Moriah, where Abraham bound his son Isaac for sacrifice. Because of this same myth, Solomon built his Temple on the Mount, which Jews esteemed as the Holy of Holies, the center of their universe and the dwelling of God Himself. When the Temple was destroyed for the second and final time, the 1
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Page space did not lose its sacred dimension; in particular, the surviving Western Wall of the Devir was appreciated as the last remnant of the Temple, and among the closest physical spaces to the presence of God (Armstrong 152). Despite the growing influence of the Christian sect, Jews continued to revere the desolate Temple platform, where they believed a Third Temple would someday be constructed (Armstrong 157). As the Christian “New Jerusalem” rose, the Temple Mount languished; the new church complex on the Western Hill (which would eventually become the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) seemed to look down upon the rubble of the old Jewish Temple complex (Armstrong 185). Despite various wishful plans and prophecies, the
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