Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rockefeller Museum

On the corner of Sultan Suleimavn and Al-Muqdasi Streets, just across the street from the northeastern corner tower of the Old City, known as "the Stork's Nest" is an impressive museum built under the British Mandate.  Originally the Palestine Archaeological Museum, it has since become known as the Rockefeller Museum because it was built largely with a generous donation from the Rockefeller family.

A large, imposing stone structure, it is a familiar site overlooking the Qidron Valley towards the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus.  I have seen it almost every day I have been in Jerusalem and frequently walk by it on my way to and from the Old City or to the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem just north of the city walls.  But I have never visited it.

So Elaine and I took the part of a day, drove as close as we could, parked on the street, and then walked to the museum, where we spent several hours examining the collection of artifacts that were gathered from all over Palestine in the Mandatory period (1920-1948).

One of the four main exhibition halls inside the Rockefeller

This hall includes sculpture and stucco from Hisham's Palace north of Jericho.  See my January 14 post.
Elaine loved the eyes and expression of this deer

The large central court had sarcophagi, capitals, and other large sculpted pieces in its porticos

I liked this Roman milestone
By today's museum standards, the displays are dated and not real well organized.  But the venerable museum has a good collection, and the building itself is an important site.  It reminded me of the constantly changing history of this city---occupied in succession by the British, then the Jordanians, and then the Israelis.  During the Six Days War in 1967, the museum with its fortress-like stone central tower was an early objective of Israeli paratroopers as they penetrated and, block-by-block,m seized East Jerusalem north of the Old City.  For a couple of days, they used the museum as a fortress, facing off against Jordanian troops ensconced on the Old City Walls just across the street.

The city walls on one side of Sultan Suleiman Street

And the retaining wall of the Rockefeller property on the other side

"The Stork's Nest," the northeastern corner of the Old City Walls.  Jordanian machine gun emplacements here controlled much of the Qidron Valley below to the east, but the high position of the Rockefeller is on a level with it.

After we finished our visit to the museum, I used its high overlooks to get some pictures of the city walls (we were almost on a level with the top of them from this site) and across the Qidron to the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus, which included a great view of the BYU Center.

Hebrew University on Mount Scopus

The BYU Center and Augusta Victoria on Mount Scopus
The Russian tower of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
A great view of our home!!!

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