Recently there has been some interesting discussion on how much of the temple was covered by gold plating—see for example Leen Ritmeyer Here (plus reference to The Biblical Archaeological Review)
Ritmeyer discusses the various views regarding the ‘gold plating’ of the temple and the magnitude of the vine, he is more of a “maximalist” than Avi–Yonah. He also cites the following from Josephus:
From its summit protruded sharp golden spikes to prevent birds from settling upon them and polluting the roof. (War 5.207–226 and also Ant. 15.391-395)
Please see image above.
In March of 2014, when visiting Capernaum, I noticed that the Franciscans had tried the same technique to ward off the pigeons.
It looked to me like the Franciscans were trying the old “Second Temple technique” to deter the two nesting pigeons—unsuccessfully! Hmmmm . . . .
Not very Christmasy, but I couldn’t resist ;-)!