The nature of Jerusalem is such that one cannot walk more than a few steps without tripping over the detritus of a hallowed and bygone era; such that the simplest construction project cannot be completed without its shovels hitting artifacts dating back to the Second Temple period and beyond. Construction in the Russian Compound, between the current site of the Russian Orthodox Church and the main municipal police station, during the industrious latter half of the 19th century uncovered one of the most impressive artifacts of the successive bygone eras of the Holy City's storied past – a monolithic twelve meter marble pillar.
The pillar, ensconced where it was discovered in a deep trench, dates back to the Second Temple period, another era of noted industry in Jerusalem. Herod the Great, king of Judea, embarked on an ambitious program to transform Jerusalem into the kind of architecturally striking and cosmopolitan city that would place it on a par with the great centers of the Roman Empire, and archaeologists believe that the Russian Compound pillar lies in what was once a quarry cranking out the building blocks of Herod's vision.
The column was doomed to an eternity of stasis, however, when it cracked during quarrying. Ironically, however, its damaged state ensured its immortality – while most of the architecture of Herodian Jerusalem has been lost to history, Jerusalem visitors can still see the cracked column in all its faded glory today. You may also hear the pillar referred to as "The Finger of Og" - a name derived from a Jerusalem legend that the pillar was the finger bone of Og of a Bashan, an Amorite giant-king killed by the armies of Joshua.
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