Arch commentary

People left clear signs of their time in the land in the physical remains they left behind. The arch illustrates some of the ways to identify different periods.

From Roman times, the arch with the keystone holding the structure together, was a rounded shape like the arch above, (one of thousands) which held up the aqueduct bringing water to Caesarea Maritima. Today we know the arch was invented before Rome. A 3800 year old arch can be seen here.

Crusaders, who were in the land in the 12th and 13th centuries, took the arch and pulled it up in the middle to create a pointed arch. Like the arch (above) from a courtyard on Mt. Zion. There are no pointed arches before this time though of course the shape was copied later, and may be the beginning of Gothic architecture.

The Crusaders were driven out by the rulers of Egypt, the Mamelukes. The word means "owned" describing ex-slaves. Baybars, a freed slave who rose to command the Caliph's army, was the first of these rulers, taking over the kingdom after he defeated Hulaga, grandson of Genghis Khan, at Bet She'an. From then on an ex-slave, from the area of Mongolia and later from the Caucuses, succeeded to the throne; a somewhat unusual social structure.
   The Mamelukes took the Crusader arch and made it their own by adding a semi-cup shape under the pointed arch. Like this arch on the Street of the Chain just outside Haram as-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary, also known as the Temple Mount). Structures such as these can be dated between 1300 and 1500.