Near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, there is a Monumental Hall that dates to the late Second Temple Period (New Testament era). There is some speculation that the Sanhedrin may have (occasionally) met here—see below.
Note the finely finished stones in both walls as well as the chest-high decorative horizontal ridge/railing that separates the lower and upper portion of the walls. Near the corner of the west (left) wall note the delicately carved protruding pilaster.
I visited this all in the 1970s with Gabi Barkai and I thought he said it might be Hasmonean. But our guide said it was Herodian (37–4 B.C.) with possibly some Hasmonean elements.
I am not sure of its function but it certainly is “monumental.” In my Zondervan Atlas of the Bible I labeled it as a “Public Building” (p. 250).
In the above image note, the delicate protruding pilaster to the right of the center of the image and to the left of center note the well–defined horizontal “railing” that is about chest high that separates the lower and upper portions of the wall.
On the left (east) wall there are two huge doorways. Note the large carved doorposts and the huge lintels. Currently, these doorways lead to the ritual bath that I described in a previous post, but originally they may have led to something else.
I believe that the far wall, with a doorway and other openings, is secondary, and that the original hall extended farther south.
Could this have been the hall where the Sanhedrin met? If so, possibly Jesus, some apostles, Stephen, and/or Paul appeared here. (Unconfirmed speculation)
The early explorer Charles Warren called this structure the “Hall of the Freemasons (see below). Additional comments/suggestions/correction are appreciated.
Not my “cup of tea” below.
From the Gallery of Masonic Sights from Israel
Hall of the Freemasons, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel.
Discovered and named by the Freemason, Bro. Lieutenant Charles Warren [!] during the excavations of the late 1860’s near Wilson’s Arch. Second Temple construction by Zerubbabel (536-516 BCE).