A.D. 70 The Destruction of the Temple — Where did the Temple Treasure Go? Part 2

All visitors to Rome will have visited the Colosseum, Arch of Titus, and the Roman Forum.  But one of the places that visitors, and guides, will normally pass over are the additions to the Roman Forum called The Roman Fora.  “Fora” is plural for the cluster of Forums that  Julius Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian/Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan built  north of the more frequently visited “Roman Forum.”  Normally all of this “pile of ruins” is passed over by guides and visitors except the Column of Trajan that is so conspicuous.

The 125 ft. tall Column of Trajan at the west end of his Forum.

The Temple of Peace was located at the east end of these Fora.  It was constructed by Vespasian after his conquest of Judea and Jerusalem and dedicated in A.D. 75—images below.

View looking west at the southwest portico—where the seven columns are—and the southwest portion of the large “garden” that was west of the Temple of Peace.

In the center of the image are two parallel walls that are joined in the center of the image. This is a part of one of six such low structures. Some believe that these were actually raised gardens and had a small aqueduct flowing on top of them. A partial one is seen to the right of this one.

The Temple of Peace and this Forum were built by Vespasian. It was financed from spoils from the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66–70) and was inaugurated in A.D. 75 to commemorate the end of the civil wars that followed the death of Nero. The “Forum” was actually a garden and the Temple of Peace and associated rooms and Porticos housed works of art, a library, and precious objects from the Temple of the Jew in Jerusalem.

Fortunately, in recent years portions of the “Temple of Peace” have been excavated.  But it seems that the key part, the Temple itself, is covered over by the street—the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

Josephus, the Jewish historian  lived in Rome during the time of Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, etc., and probably witnessed the construction and dedication of the Temple of Peace.  He wrote:

War.7.5.7. (158) After these triumphs [a procession through the old Forum—see Arch of Titus] were over, and after the affairs of the Romans were settled on the surest foundation, Vespasian resolved to build a temple to Peace, which he finished in so short a time, and in so glorious a manner, as was beyond all human expectations and opinion: (159) for he having now by Providence a vast quantity of wealth, besides what he had formerly gained in his other exploits, he had this temple adorned with pictures and statues; (160) for in this temple were collected and deposited all such rarities as men aforetime used to wander all over the habitable world to see, when they had a desire to see them one after another: (161) he also laid up therein, as ensigns of his glory, those golden vessels and instruments that were taken out of the Jewish temple. (162) But still he gave orders that they should lay up their Law, and the purple veils of the holy place, in the royal palace itself, and keep them there.

It is interesting to “muse” that Josephus, who claims to have been a priest, probably saw these objects in THE TEMPLE in Jerusalem—before it was destroyed, but also witnessed their being deposited in a pagan temple and in the palace of the Emperor who had slaughtered so many of his people and had destroyed the very Temple of God!

View looking south at the southwest portico—where the seven columns are—and the southwest portion of the large “garden” that was west of the Temple of Peace.

From left to right in the center of the image, there are two parallel walls that are joined in the center of the image. This is a part of one of six such low structures. Some believe that these were actually raised gardens and had a small aqueduct flowing on top of them. A partial one is seen to the right of this one.  The large building in the upper right is the Curia—Roman Senate House.

In A.D. 192 the Temple of Peace burned down!  So what happened to the Menorah, golden vessels and utensils then?

You are invited to check out “Part 3” of this series in the not-to-distant future.

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4 responses to “A.D. 70 The Destruction of the Temple — Where did the Temple Treasure Go? Part 2

  1. Very interesting information, Carl! Thanks for the pictures and the research.

  2. I have a hard time visualizing the Temple of Peace, or other royal buildings, burning down. Wasn’t the foundation and walls made of stone? Interior decorations I can visualize, but not the building.

  3. I suppose the next clue would be understanding the circumstance by which the Temple of Peace burned down and how and when was the Royal Palace destroyed. Related destruction? Were they ransacked or was there time to remove the valuables? Looking forward to Part 3.

  4. Joe in Australia

    The rafters, roof beams, and any interior floors were certainly not made of stone. I suppose everything crashing down and burning, uninterrupted, would pretty nearly destroy most walls. Also, the walls themselves may have been braced by timbers or erected between beams.

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