The Double Urban Impact of a Model of Ancient Jerusalem
Esther Grabiner (Tel Aviv University)
Between 1962-1966 there was built a model reconstructing the city of Jerusalem for the year 66 A.D. This was the period of the Second Temple when the city spread on an area of 1.8 square kilometers. The model was constructed to the scale of 1:50 and made from authentic local materials. It was planned under the direction of the archaeologist Michael Avi-Yonah.Hans Kroch, the initiated the model in memory of his son, Yaacov whom he lost during Israel's war of Independence in 1948.
This model was of importance to the inhabitants of western Jerusalem, as it connected them both to their historic past and to a conceptual ideal of Jerusalem. It provided a tangible link to the city of the Second Temple Period, both as an object of nostalgia and research. The model represented the city of the antique past, as well as providing a substitute for the actual Old City, since, at the time of the model’s construction, it was inaccessible to the inhabitants of the western part of the city. Despite the model's isolated location it became quickly one of the city's icons and an important symbol of its identity as the capital of the Jewish State.
Forty years later, the previously isolated site has become an essential part of the enlarged city, and the object of a real estate development for luxury apartments. These changes prompted the site entrepreneurs to trash the model, but the Municipality of Jerusalem obliged them to relocate it to another site. The model was cut into 1000 pieces, and rebuilt within the Israel Museum Compound. The new site was excavated to relate to the authentic landscape encircled the historic city.The model in this new location is adjacent to the Shrine of the Book. and is deliberately connected visually to the Israeli Parliament Building, the Knesset.
In this paper, by means of iconographic analysis of the model and its surroundings, its original and new location, I intend to discus two main issues: first, the role of collective memory imbedded in the model as an element of urban identity and second, the empowerment of this memory as markers of boundaries within the city of Jerusalem.