According to the Torah and the Bible, Solomon's Temple was the first Jewish temple built in Jerusalem in the time of King David (10th century BCE) and destroyed by Babylonians in 586 BCE. Like many key aspects of the Bible, such as Noah's Ark, Moses's parting of the Red Sea, or the very existence of Jesus Christ, finding physical evidence of Solomon's Temple has been on the minds of historians for decades, and for a long time, it was practically impossible. Since the biblical descriptions are vague at best and confusing at worst, it seemed historians would never find proof of what Solomon's Temple may have looked like. That all changed in the early 1980s with the excavation of Ain Dara, a temple found just north of Aleppo, Syria.
Solomon's Temple and Ain Dara were incredibly similar, and the remains of Ain Dara helped historians piece together some of the more confusing aspects of the biblical descriptions of Solomon's Temple. In fact, Ain Dara isn't just the strongest source of evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple—some scholars are convinced Ain Dara served as the architectural inspiration for Solomon's Temple. Despite significant damage from a Turkish airstrike in 2018, Ain Dara still serves as a valuable resource for historians and archeologists.
Scholars Tried To Piece Together The Temple Of King Solomon For Centuries
Since Solomon's Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, scholars have struggled to piece together just what the temple would have looked like. Adding to that difficulty, the site where the temple reportedly sat, Temple Mount in Jerusalem, does not allow archeological excavation. When studying Solomon's Temple, archeologists and biblical scholars had no other option than to analyze the architectural descriptions from the Bible in 1 Kings 6–7. Thanks to Ain Dara, both points of study could be examined in greater detail based on the physical evidence available.
The Ain Dara Temple In Syria Resembles The Temple Of King Solomon To A Tee
The depiction of Solomon's Temple in the Bible can get a bit murky, as the units of measurement (cubits) are outdated, and some of the descriptions can be interpreted in different ways. However, when looking closely at the descriptions of the First Temple, and comparing those to Ain Dara, the similarities are hard to ignore. Both were built on top of platforms, which sat on top of the highest points in their individual cities. Decoratively, they were both adorned with carvings of lions, mythical animals, and geometrical and floral designs. Ain Dara was heavily decorated with several rows of basalt reliefs that depict lions and other large creatures that line up with the Bible's description.
The Architecture At Ain Dara Aligns With Descriptions Of Solomon's Temple
Besides the decorative touches, the buildings overlap with a series of significant architectural similarities. The floor plans are nearly identical: both consisted of an entryway flanked by two columns, which led to a main hall (Ain Dara had an antechamber before the main hall) and finally to an elevated shrine. Both temples had a courtyard, with a staircase leading up to the platforms on which the buildings sat. It goes even deeper than a similar three-room floor plan, though. Both sites' entryways were narrower than the main hall, open on one side, and supported by pillars.
Ain Dara Shares 33 Of 65 Physical Traits With Solomon's Temple
If the architectural and decorative similarities weren't enough, scholars have concluded that Ain Dara and Solomon's Temple share about 33 out of 65 physical traits, making Ain Dara the temple which most closely resembled the description of Solomon's Temple. These 65 traits were taken directly from the Bible and applied to Ain Dara, which helped archeologists discover illuminating features at the Syrian temple, such as an elevated podium at the rear of Ain Dara that was a notable comparison for the biblical "holy of holies." Ain Dara was also closest in size to the biblical descriptions of Solomon's Temple.