The SW corner of the Temple is one of the most fascinating archaeological areas of Jerusalem. Referred to as the “south- wall excavations,” excavations here took place in 1968-1977 by Benjamin Mazar. Over hundred years earlier though, Edward Robinson (in 1838) and later Charles Warren (1868) did the first exploration of this area. While “modern” archaeology started more or less at the turn of the 20th century, these two early pioneers must be given credit for all starting the adventure of uncovering many things related to Herod’s Temple and to the Bible.
Among the many things we can see at the SW corner of these south-wall excavations (today called the Davidson Center), most impressive is the Roman street, the toppled stone blocks (still laying on the ancient street) and mikvot (Jewish ritual baths). Exposed high on the western wall near the corner of the Temple is the remains of a bridge. It is called Robinson’s Arch (named after the one who discovered it in the 1830s). It was formerly used as a bridge most likely for priests to enter the Temple. Found at the SW corner of the Temple (again, laying on the 2,000 year-old Roman street) was a inscription that read, “To the place of trumpeting.” This was where the Temple priests used to announce the beginning and end of he Sabbath and of Jewish festivals.
On the southern end of the excavations are the Temple steps. This was the primary entrance into the Temple for common people in the days of Jesus. These would have been the steps used by Joseph as he brought infant Jesus into the Temple (they would be greeted by Simeon, Luke 2), by the Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18), and by Paul (Acts 21). Countless of other events took place here. They would have used the Huldah Gates.
Dating to a time period prior to Jesus’ day, there are also excavations that have revealed ruins from the days of the OT as well. The Ophel (the area between the City of David to the south and the Temple itself) can be seen here, especially walls restored by Nehemiah when we returned in 445 BC.
This video of the area (from “All About Jerusalem”) is an excellent overview of this area: