To begin with, what is it? In order to answer this question one must, of course, qualify it by asking—to whom? Pamela Berger in The Crescent on the Temple: The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Ancient Jewish Sanctuary has done a great service by supplying us with a history of the iconographic representation of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock (the Qubbat al-Sakhrah). While no publication could ever exhaustively summarize the countless visual and literary portrayals of this world heritage site, Berger not only makes a valiant attempt at such but necessarily changes the way that almost all scholars and untrained alike look at this edifice in the present. The images she examines are worth far more than a thousand words. Various depictions of the holy site perched on Mt. Moriah in the al-Haram al-Sharif (“the Noble Sanctuary”) found across the world in Islamic homes and public buildings, on advertisements produced by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and memorabilia purchased by pilgrims—make this little understood but extraordinarily beautiful structure one the most well-known on the planet. Rising above white marble and once multicolored gold and glass mosaic, its famous, now gold-covered Dome has captured the attention of those looking upon the old city of Jerusalem from several directions since the end of the seventh century. Inside marble and elaborate mosaics, the largest preserved set from before the twelfth century anywhere in the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, provide a glorious ring around sacred rock and cave. Frankly, upon consideration of its long history and Berger's work on the history of its representation, this review author doesn't even know where to begin.
"Jerusalem Obscured: The Crescent on the Temple: The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Ancient Jewish Sanctuary,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 3, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol3/iss1/6