This 50:1 scale model, covering nearly one acre, evokes ancient Jerusalem at its peak, meticulously recreating its topography and architectural character in 66 CE, the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans broke out, leading to the destruction of the Temple and the city in the year 70 CE.
The model, a Jerusalem cultural landmark, was originally built at the initiative of Holyland Hotel owner Hans Kroch in memory of his son Jacob, who fell in Israel's War of Independence. Kroch argued that Israel in general, and in particular its capital Jerusalem – which was cut off from the Old City at the time – lacked a historical monument that could compare with the antiquities of Athens and Rome.
In 1962, Kroch approached Michael Avi-Yonah, professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, commissioning Avi-Yonah to create the Model and provide its topographic and archaeological basis and architectural design. The model was opened to the general public in 1966, immediately becoming a popular attraction and educational site for Israelis and tourists alike.
In 2006 the Second Temple Model was transferred to the Israel Museum campus, where it offers a concrete illustration of the period documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls, when Rabbinic Judaism took shape and Christianity was born.
Providing a vivid context for the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls and for many contemporaneous archaeological artifacts displayed throughout the Museum, the Model Illustrates one of the most formative periods in the history of the Jewish people, and bears a deep connection to the symbols of modern statehood that surround the Museum campus.