A note on the population size of Jerusalem in the second temple period

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The article re-examines the parameters which are used for an estimation of the population of Jerusalem in the late Second Temple period, i.e. the population of the big Temple City. The outcome of the changes in these parameters (population density; defining the area devoted to private housing), a new figure for the population of the city of that period is suggested - around 30000 people (see Fig. 1 and Table), based on a coefficient of 500 persons per hectare.A second issue discussed is the reason to the construction of the Second Wall described by Flavius Josephus (Ant. 4, 146, 158). The construction project of the Temple Mount required a large working force of many thousand of people (Ant. 15, 390; 20, 219), for a considerably long time. These people were brought from the countryside and other towns, and resided in the city. It is the author's opinion, that this influx of people required the addition of a new quarter to the city, which was also soon fortified with Josephus' Second Wall. The population density in this quarter was high, and as it increased another fortified quarter was added, under Agrippa 1st, fortified by the Third Wall.Another source of people who might have been housed in the newly fortified part of the city, are those who lost their houses which happened to be located in the areas into which the Temple Mount was extended, as attested by the newly found remains along the western and southern Temple Mount walls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-305
Number of pages8
JournalRevue Biblique
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Archaeology


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