About Orit Peleg-Barkat

Orit Peleg-Barkat

Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat is a Classical archaeologist specializing in Hellenistic and Roman art and architecture of the southern Levant (4th c. BCE – 4th c. CE). She is a staff member of the Classical Archaeology sub-department at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and runs excavations and field work at several sites, including at En Gedi by the Dead Sea, at Horvat Midras in the Judean Foothills, at Horvat 'Eleq east of Caesarea, as well as in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dr. Peleg-Barkat has published extensively in various journals and collective books on architectural decoration used in the private and public sphere by the Hasmonean dynasty, King Herod and the Jewish elites of both late Hellenistic and early Roman period Jerusalem and its rural countryside. She has also been engaged in studies of the synagogue of Gamla, the art and architecture of Aelia Capitolina, Herodian Jerusalem, and more. In 2017 her monograph on Herod's Royal Portico came out (The Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem, 1976-1978 Directed by Benjamin Mazar, Final Reports, Vol. V: Herodian Architectural Decoration and King Herod’s Royal Portico, Jerusalem).

Presenter at

February Bible & Archaeology Fest 2024
At the Temple Gates: Pilgrimage in the Late Second Temple period in light of the renewed excavations at the Ophel with Uzi Leibner

The pilgrimage to the Jerusalem Temple was one of the major components of Second Temple-period Judaism. Despite the plethora of references to this phenomenon in ancient sources, little is known about its actual reality. The Ophel, at the southern gates to the Temple precinct, was a central public hub for pilgrims flocking there from Judea and the diaspora, gathering here before entering to the Temple. Excavations have been conducted here since the 19th century, the major ones conducted by Benjamin Mazar in the 1970’s, uncovering significant remains from this period (largely unpublished).

A new project of the Hebrew University investigates the archaeology of pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple through renewed excavations at the Ophel, combined with the study of remains and finds from Mazar’s excavations. The project enables to examine how the area was designed to serve the myriads of pilgrims and reconstruct their social, ritual, and economic activities by the Temple gates by studying: (a) the urban planning of the Ophel and its development from the late Hellenistic period until the destruction of the city in 70 CE; (b) economic and behavioral aspects of the pilgrimage by using advanced research methods to examine the rich assemblage of unearthed artifacts. Together with archaeological evidence on pilgrimage from elsewhere in Jerusalem and its environs, and information gained from historical sources and comparative studies of pilgrimage to other destinations, it enables to present a comprehensive reconstruction of the pilgrimage to the Jerusalem temple, which is of supreme historical and religious significance.