The Annaberg Mountain Altar

The Annaberg Mountain Altar

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St Anne’s in Annaberg-Buchholz is one of Saxony’s largest and most beautiful hall churches. The late-Gothic church was built after rich silver finds attracted the multitudes to the heavily-forested Erzgebirge region in the 15th century. This time of economic prosperity provided the perfect conditions for art and architecture to flourish. The church’s foundation stone was laid just three years after the town was founded in 1496.

Three prominent architects were responsible for transforming the plans for a spacious hall church into reality. Konrad Pflüger and Peter Ullrich oversaw the construction of the massive outer walls, and their influence can also be seen inside the church, in the inward-pointing support pillars and peripheral gallery. Jacob Haylmann from Schweinfurt introduced Bohemian influences to the church building, garnered from his involvement in the construction of Prague Castle. His late-Gothic looping ribbed vaults still adorn the church to this day. After its completion in 1525, the church continued to hold orthodox masses for the people of Annaberg until 1539. Following the Reformation, the majority of the fixtures remained in place. Five large altars and other items pre-dating the Reformation are still in place at St Anne’s to this day. Furthermore, the church is still known by the name of St Anne, patron saint of miners and St Mary’s mother.

The church is filled with beautiful works and religious objects by renowned artists, including Hans Witten, Hans Hesse and Franz Maidburg. The pulpit, the baptismal font, the biblical images carved in stone on the gallery and the beautiful doorway are particularly noteworthy.

The famous “Annaberg altar” also deserves special mention. This carved altar of St Mary was donated by the miners’ guild in 1521. The panel paintings originated from the studio of German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach, while the back of the altar was created by painter Hans Hesse. This gives a detailed portrayal of mining in the Annaberg area at the start of the 16th century. Along with the legend surrounding Daniel Knappe’s first discovery of silver, the painting also depicts the mining processes, the various occupations and the heavy impact of mining on the landscape of the Erzgebirge region.

The main altar, which stands at the centre of the choir, is particularly eye-catching. The altar, made of light-coloured limestone and marble, was produced in Augsburg for St Anne’s Church by Adolf and Hans Daucher. This early-Renaissance piece depicts the genealogy of Christ. The stone-carved branches loop and wind from the Tree of Jesse, encompassing the Kings of Israel and Anne and Joachim, the grandparents of Jesus, before reaching the Holy Family itself.

The church owes its present-day appearance to a comprehensive programme of restoration work undertaken between 1973 and 1998. Following the complete renovation of the roof, the inside of the church was restored back to its 16th-century state. The furnishings and organ were also overhauled.

The organ

The organ is a Romantic piece dating from 1884 and built by German firm Walcker, based in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart. Following restoration by German company Eule, in Bautzen, it was rededicated in 1995. With its 4,583 pipes, 3 manuals and 65 stops, the instrument brings delight to music lovers from far and wide.

The church tower

St Anne’s 78.6 m tower is a popular tourist attraction and has been lived in for the past 500 years. Since 1999, the Melzer family have been lovingly taking care of the old masonry, receiving tourists and ringing the bells. They live 42 metres up, above the belfry, which houses the three large bells. Furthermore, the cupola is also home to the “ore-hewer bell”, which is rung three times a day and strikes the hour on the church clock. The tower is open from May to October, and at weekends during Advent. Those visiting are rewarded with a display of interesting exhibits in the stairwells and a unique view over the town and the Erzgebirge area.


The Hebrew name given in the Hebrew Bible for the building complex is either Mikdash (Hebrew: מקדש ‎), as used in Exodus 25:8, or simply Bayt / Beit Adonai (Hebrew: בית ‎), as used in 1 Chronicles 22:11.

In rabbinic literature the temple sanctuary is Beit HaMikdash (Hebrew: בית המקדש ‎), meaning, "The Holy House", and only the Temple in Jerusalem is referred to by this name. [1] In classic English texts, however, the word "Temple" is used interchangeably, sometimes having the strict connotation of the Temple precincts, with its courts (Greek: ἱερὸν ), while at other times having the strict connotation of the Temple Sanctuary (Greek: ναός ). [2] While Greek and Hebrew texts make this distinction, English texts do not always do so.

Jewish rabbi and philosopher Moses Maimonides gave the following definition of "Temple" in his Mishne Torah (Hil. Beit Ha-Bechirah):

They are enjoined to make, in what concerns it (i.e. the building of the Temple), a holy site and an inner-sanctum, [3] and where there is positioned in front of the holy site a certain place that is called a 'Hall' (Hebrew: אולם ‎). The three of these places are called 'Sanctuary' (Hebrew: היכל ‎). They are [also] enjoined to make a different partition surrounding the Sanctuary, distant from it, similar to the screen-like hangings of the court that were in the wilderness (Exodus 39:40). All that which is surrounded by this partition, which, as noted, is like the court of the Tabernacle, is called 'Courtyard' (Hebrew: עזרה ‎), whereas all of it together is called 'Temple' (Hebrew: מקדש ‎) [lit. 'the Holy Place']. [4] [5]

The Hebrew Bible says that the First Temple was built by King Solomon, [6] completed in 957 BCE. [7] According to the Book of Deuteronomy, as the sole place of Israelite korban (sacrifice) ( Deuteronomy 12:2–27 ), the Temple replaced the Tabernacle constructed in the Sinai under the auspices of Moses, as well as local sanctuaries, and altars in the hills. [8] This Temple was sacked a few decades later by Shoshenq I, Pharaoh of Egypt. [9]

Although efforts were made at partial reconstruction, it was only in 835 BCE when Jehoash, King of Judah, in the second year of his reign invested considerable sums in reconstruction, only to have it stripped again for Sennacherib, King of Assyria c. 700 BCE. [ citation needed ] The First Temple was totally destroyed in the Siege of Jerusalem by the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 586 BCE. [10]

According to the Book of Ezra, construction of the Second Temple was called for by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BCE, [11] after the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire the year before. [12] According to some 19th-century calculations, work started later, in April 536 BCE ( Haggai 1:15 ), and was completed in 515 BCE—February 21–21 years after the start of the construction. This date is obtained by coordinating Ezra 3:8–10 (the third day of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the Great) with historical sources. [13] The accuracy of these dates is contested by some modern researchers, who consider the biblical text to be of later date and based on a combination of historical records and religious considerations, leading to contradictions between different books of the Bible and making the dates unreliable. [14] The new temple was dedicated by the Jewish governor Zerubbabel. However, with a full reading of the Book of Ezra and the Book of Nehemiah, there were four edicts to build the Second Temple, which were issued by three kings: Cyrus in 536 BCE (Ezra ch. 1), Darius I of Persia in 519 BCE (ch. 6), and Artaxerxes I of Persia in 457 BCE (ch. 7), and finally by Artaxerxes again in 444 BCE (Nehemiah ch. 2). [15]

According to classical Jewish sources, another demolition of the Temple was narrowly avoided in 332 BCE when the Jews refused to acknowledge the deification of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, but Alexander was placated at the last minute by astute diplomacy and flattery. [16] After the death of Alexander on 13 June 323 BCE, and the dismembering of his empire, the Ptolemies came to rule over Judea and the Temple. Under the Ptolemies, the Jews were given many civil liberties and lived content under their rule. However, when the Ptolemaic army was defeated at Panium by Antiochus III of the Seleucids in 200 BCE, this policy changed. Antiochus wanted to Hellenise the Jews, attempting to introduce the Greek pantheon into the temple. Moreover, a rebellion ensued and was brutally crushed, but no further action by Antiochus was taken, and when Antiochus died in 187 BCE at Luristan, his son Seleucus IV Philopator succeeded him. However, his policies never took effect in Judea, since he was assassinated the year after his ascension. [ citation needed ] Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeded his older brother to the Seleucid throne and immediately adopted his father's previous policy of universal Hellenisation. The Jews rebelled again and Antiochus, in a rage, retaliated in force. Considering the previous episodes of discontent, the Jews became incensed when the religious observances of Sabbath and circumcision were officially outlawed. When Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus in their temple and Hellenic priests began sacrificing pigs (the usual sacrifice offered to the Greek gods in the Hellenic religion), their anger began to spiral. When a Greek official ordered a Jewish priest to perform a Hellenic sacrifice, the priest (Mattathias) killed him. In 167 BCE, the Jews rose up en masse behind Mattathias and his five sons to fight and won their freedom from Seleucid authority. Mattathias' son Judah Maccabee, now called "The Hammer", re-dedicated the temple in 165 BCE and the Jews celebrate this event to this day as the central theme of the non-biblical festival of Hanukkah. The temple was rededicated under Judah Maccabee in 164 BCE. [6]

During the Roman era, Pompey entered (and thereby desecrated) the Holy of Holies in 63 BCE, but left the Temple intact. [17] [18] [19] In 54 BCE, Crassus looted the Temple treasury. [20] [21]

Around 20 BCE, the building was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great, and became known as Herod's Temple. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem. During the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in 132–135 CE, Simon bar Kokhba and Rabbi Akiva wanted to rebuild the Temple, but bar Kokhba's revolt failed and the Jews were banned from Jerusalem (except for Tisha B'Av) by the Roman Empire. The emperor Julian allowed to have the Temple rebuilt but the Galilee earthquake of 363 ended all attempts ever since. [ citation needed ]

After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan ordered the construction of an Islamic shrine, the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount. The shrine has stood on the mount since 691 CE the al-Aqsa Mosque, from roughly the same period, also stands in what used to be the Temple courtyard. [ citation needed ]

Archaeological excavations have found remnants of both the First Temple and Second Temple. Among the artifacts of the First Temple are dozens of ritual immersion or baptismal pools in this area surrounding the Temple Mount, [22] as well as a large square platform identified by architectural archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer as likely being built by King Hezekiah c. 700 BCE as a gathering area in front of the Temple.

Possible Second Temple artifacts include the Trumpeting Place inscription and the Temple Warning inscription, which are surviving pieces of the Herodian expansion of the Temple Mount.

There are three main theories as to where the Temple stood: where the Dome of the Rock is now located, to the north of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Asher Kaufman), or to the east of the Dome of the Rock (Professor Joseph Patrich of the Hebrew University). [23]

The exact location of the Temple is a contentious issue, as questioning the exact placement of the Temple is often associated with Temple denial. Since the Holy of Holies lay at the center of the complex as a whole, the Temple's location is dependent on the location of the Holy of Holies. The location of the Holy of Holies was even a question less than 150 years after the Second Temple's destruction, as detailed in the Talmud. Chapter 54 of the Tractate Berakhot states that the Holy of Holies was directly aligned with the Golden Gate, which would have placed the Temple slightly to the north of the Dome of the Rock, as Kaufman postulated. [24] However, chapter 54 of the Tractate Yoma and chapter 26 of the Tractate Sanhedrin assert that the Holy of Holies stood directly on the Foundation Stone, which agrees with the consensus theory that the Dome of the Rock stands on the Temple's location. [25] [26]

The Temple of Solomon or First Temple consisted of four main elements:

  • the Great or Outer Court, where people assembled to worship ( Jeremiah 19:14 26:2 )
  • the Inner Court ( 1 Kings 6:36 ) or Court of the Priests ( 2 Chr. 4:9 )
  • the larger hekhal, or Holy Place, called the "greater house" in 2 Chr. 3:5 and the "temple" in 1 Kings 6:17 , and
  • the smaller "inner sanctum", known as the Holy of Holies or Kodesh HaKodashim.

In the case of the last and most elaborate structure, the Herodian Temple, the structure consisted of the wider Temple precinct, the restricted Temple courts, and the Temple building itself:

  • Temple precinct, located on the extended Temple Mount platform, and including the Court of the Gentiles or Ezrat HaNashim
  • Court of the Israelites, reserved for ritually pure Jewish men
  • Court of the Priests, whose relation to the Temple Court is interpreted in different ways by scholars
  • Temple Court or Azarah, with the Brazen Laver (kiyor), the Altar of Burnt Offerings (mizbe'ah), the Place of Slaughtering, and the Temple building itself

The Temple edifice had three distinct chambers:

  • Temple vestibule or porch (ulam)
  • Temple sanctuary (hekhal or heikal), the main part of the building (Kodesh HaKodashim or debir), the innermost chamber

According to the Talmud, the Women's Court was to the east and the main area of the Temple to the west. [27] The main area contained the butchering area for the sacrifices and the Outer Altar on which portions of most offerings were burned. An edifice contained the ulam (antechamber), the hekhal (the "sanctuary"), and the Holy of Holies. The sanctuary and the Holy of Holies were separated by a wall in the First Temple and by two curtains in the Second Temple. The sanctuary contained the seven branched candlestick, the table of showbread and the Incense Altar.

The main courtyard had thirteen gates. On the south side, beginning with the southwest corner, there were four gates:

  • Shaar Ha'Elyon (the Upper Gate)
  • Shaar HaDelek (the Kindling Gate), where wood was brought in
  • Shaar HaBechorot (the Gate of Firstborns), where people with first-born animal offerings entered
  • Shaar HaMayim (the Water Gate), where the Water Libation entered on Sukkot/the Feast of Tabernacles

On the north side, beginning with the northwest corner, there were four gates:

  • Shaar Yechonyah (The Gate of Jeconiah), where kings of the Davidic line enter and Jeconiah left for the last time to captivity after being dethroned by the King of Babylon
  • Shaar HaKorban (The gate of the Offering), where priests entered with kodshei kodashim offerings
  • Shaar HaNashim (The Women's Gate), where women entered into the Azara or main courtyard to perform offerings [28]
  • Shaar Hashir (The Gate of Song), where the Levites entered with their musical instruments

On the east side was Shaar Nikanor, between the Women's Courtyard and the main Temple Courtyard, which had two minor doorways, one on its right and one on its left. On the western wall, which was relatively unimportant, there were two gates that did not have any name.

The Mishnah lists concentric circles of holiness surrounding the Temple: Holy of Holies Sanctuary Vestibule Court of the Priests Court of the Israelites Court of the Women Temple Mount the walled city of Jerusalem all the walled cities of the Land of Israel and the borders of the Land of Israel.

The Temple was the place where offerings described in the course of the Hebrew Bible were carried out, including daily morning and afternoon offerings and special offerings on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Levites recited Psalms at appropriate moments during the offerings, including the Psalm of the Day, special psalms for the new month, and other occasions, the Hallel during major Jewish holidays, and psalms for special sacrifices such as the "Psalm for the Thanksgiving Offering" (Psalm 100).

As part of the daily offering, a prayer service was performed in the Temple which was used as the basis of the traditional Jewish (morning) service recited to this day, including well-known prayers such as the Shema, and the Priestly Blessing. The Mishna describes it as follows:

The superintendent said to them, bless one benediction! and they blessed, and read the Ten Commandments, and the Shema, "And it shall come to pass if you will hearken", and "And [God] spoke. ". They pronounced three benedictions with the people present: "True and firm", and the "Avodah" "Accept, Lord our God, the service of your people Israel, and the fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer receive with favor. Blessed is He who receives the service of His people Israel with favor" (similar to what is today the 17th blessing of the Amidah), and the Priestly Blessing, and on the Sabbath they recited one blessing "May He who causes His name to dwell in this House, cause to dwell among you love and brotherliness, peace and friendship" on behalf of the weekly Priestly Guard that departed.

Seder Kodashim, the fifth order, or division, of the Mishnah (compiled between 200–220 CE), provides detailed descriptions and discussions of the religious laws connected with Temple service including the sacrifices, the Temple and its furnishings, as well as the priests who carried out the duties and ceremonies of its service. Tractates of the order deal with the sacrifices of animals, birds, and meal offerings, the laws of bringing a sacrifice, such as the sin offering and the guilt offering, and the laws of misappropriation of sacred property. In addition, the order contains a description of the Second Temple (tractate Middot), and a description and rules about the daily sacrifice service in the Temple (tractate Tamid). [29] [30] [31]

In the Babylonian Talmud, all the tractates have Gemara – rabbinical commentary and analysis – for all their chapters some chapters of Tamid, and none on Middot and Kinnim. The Jerusalem Talmud has no Gemara on any of the tractates of Kodashim. [30] [31]

The Talmud (Yoma 9b) describes traditional theological reasons for the destruction: "Why was the first Temple destroyed? Because the three cardinal sins were rampant in society: idol worship, licentiousness, and murder… And why then was the second Temple – wherein the society was involved in Torah, commandments and acts of kindness – destroyed? Because gratuitous hatred was rampant in society." [32] [33]

In his novel The Old New Land, depicting the future Jewish State as he envisioned it, Theodor Herzl – founder of political Zionism – included a depiction of a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple. However, in Herzl's view, the Temple did not need to be built on the precise site where the old Temple stood and which is now taken up by the Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, which are very sensitive holy sites. By locating the Temple at an unspecified different Jerusalem location, the Jewish state envisioned by Herzl avoids the extreme tension over this issue experienced in the actual Israel. Also, worship at the Temple envisioned by Herzl does not involve animal sacrifice, which was the main form of worship at the ancient Jerusalem Temple. Rather, the Temple depicted in Herzl's book is essentially just an especially big and ornate synagogue, holding the same kind of services as any other synagogue.

Part of the traditional Jewish morning service, the part surrounding the Shema prayer, is essentially unchanged from the daily worship service performed in the Temple. In addition, the Amidah prayer traditionally replaces the Temple's daily tamid and special-occasion Mussaf (additional) offerings (there are separate versions for the different types of sacrifices). They are recited during the times their corresponding offerings were performed in the Temple.

The Temple is mentioned extensively in Orthodox services. Conservative Judaism retains mentions of the Temple and its restoration, but removes references to the sacrifices. References to sacrifices on holidays are made in the past tense, and petitions for their restoration are removed. Mentions in Orthodox Jewish services include:

  • A daily recital of Biblical and Talmudic passages related to the korbanot (sacrifices) performed in the Temple (See korbanot in siddur).
  • References to the restoration of the Temple and sacrificial worships in the daily Amidah prayer, the central prayer in Judaism.
  • A traditional personal plea for the restoration of the Temple at the end of private recitation of the Amidah.
  • A prayer for the restoration of the "house of our lives" and the shekhinah (divine presence) "to dwell among us" is recited during the Amidah prayer.
  • Recitation of the Psalm of the day the psalm sung by the Levites in the Temple for that day during the daily morning service.
  • Numerous psalms sung as part of the ordinary service make extensive references to the Temple and Temple worship.
  • Recitation of the special Jewish holiday prayers for the restoration of the Temple and their offering, during the Mussaf services on Jewish holidays.
  • An extensive recitation of the special Temple service for Yom Kippur during the service for that holiday.
  • Special services for Sukkot (Hakafot) contain extensive (but generally obscure) references to the special Temple service performed on that day.

The destruction of the Temple is mourned on the Jewish fast day of Tisha B'Av. Three other minor fasts (Tenth of Tevet, 17th of Tammuz, and Third of Tishrei), also mourn events leading to or following the destruction of the Temple. There are also mourning practices which are observed at all times, for example, the requirement to leave part of the house unplastered.

The Temple Mount, along with the entire Old City of Jerusalem, was captured from Jordan by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War, allowing Jews once again to visit the holy site. [34] [35] Jordan had occupied East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount immediately following Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. Israel officially unified East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, with the rest of Jerusalem in 1980 under the Jerusalem Law, though United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the Jerusalem Law to be in violation of international law. [36] The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, based in Jordan, has administrative control of the Temple Mount.

Christianity Edit

According to Matthew 24:2, Jesus predicts the destruction of the Second Temple. This idea, of the Temple as the body of Christ, became a rich and multi-layered theme in medieval Christian thought (where Temple/body can be the heavenly body of Christ, the ecclesial body of the Church, and the Eucharistic body on the altar). [37]

Islam Edit

The Temple Mount bears significance in Islam as it acted as a sanctuary for the Hebrew prophets and the Israelites. Islamic tradition says that a temple was first built on the Temple Mount by Solomon, the son of David. After the destruction of the second temple, it was rebuilt by the second Rashidun Caliph, Omar, which stands until today as Al-Aqsa Mosque. Traditionally referred to as the "Farthest Mosque" (al-masjid al-aqṣa' literally "utmost site of bowing (in worship)" though the term now refers specifically to the mosque in the southern wall of the compound which today is known simply as al-haram ash-sharīf "the noble sanctuary"), the site is seen as the destination of Muhammad's Night Journey, one of the most significant events recounted in the Quran and the place of his ascent heavenwards thereafter (Mi'raj). Muslims view the Temple in Jerusalem as their inheritance, being the followers of the last prophet of God and believers in every prophet sent, including the prophets Moses and Solomon. To Muslims, Al-Aqsa Mosque is not built on top of the temple, rather, it is the Third Temple, and they are the true believers who worship in it, whereas Jews and Christians are disbelievers who do not believe in God's final prophets Jesus and Muhammad. [38] [39]

In Islam, Muslims are encouraged to visit Jerusalem and pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. There are over forty hadith about Al-Aqsa Mosque and the virtue of visiting and praying in it, or at least sending oil to light its lamps. In a hadith compiled by Al-Tabarani, Bayhaqi, and Suyuti, the Prophet Muhammad said, “A prayer in Makkah (Ka’bah) is worth 1000,000 times (reward), a prayer in my mosque (Madinah) is worth 1,000 times and a prayer in Al-Aqsa Sanctuary is worth 500 times more reward than anywhere else." Another hadith compiled by imams Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud expounds on the importance of visiting the holy site. In another hadith the prophet Muhammad said, “You should not undertake a special journey to visit any place other than the following three Masjids with the expectations of getting greater reward: the Sacred Masjid of Makkah (Ka’bah), this Masjid of mine (the Prophet’s Masjid in Madinah), and Masjid Al-Aqsa (of Jerusalem).” [40]

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, Jerusalem (i.e., the Temple Mount) has the significance as a holy site/sanctuary ("haram") for Muslims primarily in three ways, the first two being connected to the Temple. [41] First, Muhammad (and his companions) prayed facing the Temple in Jerusalem (referred to as "Bayt Al-Maqdis", in the Hadiths) similar to the Jews before changing it to the Kaaba in Mecca sixteen months after arriving in Medina following the verses revealed (Sura 2:144, 149–150). Secondly, during the Meccan part of his life, he reported to have been to Jerusalem by night and prayed in the Temple, as the first part of his otherworldly journey (Isra and Mi'raj).

Imam Abdul Hadi Palazzi, leader of Italian Muslim Assembly, quotes the Quran to support Judaism's special connection to the Temple Mount. According to Palazzi, "The most authoritative Islamic sources affirm the Temples". He adds that Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims because of its prior holiness to Jews and its standing as home to the biblical prophets and kings David and Solomon, all of whom he says are sacred figures in Islam. He claims that the Quran "expressly recognizes that Jerusalem plays the same role for Jews that Mecca has for Muslims". [42]

Ever since the Second Temple's destruction, a prayer for the construction of a Third Temple has been a formal and mandatory part of the thrice-daily Jewish prayer services. However, the question of whether and when to construct the Third Temple is disputed both within the Jewish community and without groups within Judaism argue both for and against construction of a new Temple, while the expansion of Abrahamic religion since the 1st century CE has made the issue contentious within Christian and Islamic thought as well. Furthermore, the complicated political status of Jerusalem makes reconstruction difficult, while Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock have been constructed at the traditional physical location of the Temple.

In 363 CE, the Roman emperor Julian had ordered Alypius of Antioch to rebuild the Temple as part of his campaign to strengthen non-Christian religions. [43] The attempt failed, perhaps due to sabotage, an accidental fire, or an earthquake in Galilee.

The Book of Ezekiel prophesies what would be the Third Temple, noting it as an eternal house of prayer and describing it in detail.

A journalistic depiction of the controversies around the Jerusalem Temple was presented in the 2010 documentary Lost Temple by Serge Grankin. The film contains interviews with religious and academic authorities involved in the issue. German journalist Dirk-Martin Heinzelmann, featured in the film, presents the point of view of Prof. Joseph Patrich (the Hebrew University), stemming from the underground cistern mapping made by Charles William Wilson (1836–1905). [44]

Digging Deeper: The Women of the Ore Mountains

by Wanda Marcussen, a student from Norway, studying International Relations and History
Iren Bagdasarian, a student from Armenia, studying Political, Social and Economical Sciences in Italy
and Lianne Oonwalla, a graduate of heritage studies, from India living in Germany

All that glitters isn’t gold…it could be silver, copper, tin, zinc or any other metals found in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). Nestled in these mountains is the historic mining town of Annaberg. The sloping streets and misty corners paint a medieval picture of miners on their way to work, of children running in the streets. For centuries mining was a male-dominated industry but what about the women of the Ore Mountains? What was their legacy and how did they contribute to society?

The streets of Annaberg, Saxony/Photo Credit: Lianne Oonwalla

The Free State of Saxony has a past steeped in mining history, represented in modern society by its citizens. Earlier this year, the German and Czech sites of the Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. This milestone attracted both international attention and local pride banners fly in all corners of the Saxon mining towns, proclaiming “Wir sind Welterbe!” (We are World Heritage). Mining has stimulated economic and cultural growth in the state since 1168, when the first silver was found near what is now Freiberg. In this celebrated heritage, women seem almost invisible at first sight, their contributions to both cultural and economic development are not as widely discussed as their male counterparts. The town of Annaberg is a good place for an introduction to the women of the mines, and digging deeper we fit together an interesting history.

A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

The climb uphill through Annaberg is refreshing, with a lovely reward at the top – the alluring Church of St. Annen, dedicated to St. Anne, the patron saint of mining. The foundation stone for the Church was laid in 1499 under the governance of the first parish priest to serve the town, and its long Late Gothic halls are home to many artistic treasures of both religious and historic importance. Walking across the threshold our eyes immediately fall on the three altars under the church arch. Here we get our first glimpse of the women of the mines. To the left lies the Miner’s Altar, famous for a painting on its rear by artist Hans Hesse. Illustrating the daily life of the region, the painting shows men doing hard labour, separating ore and extracting minerals, transporting heavy carriages and building houses. However, there is only one woman depicted in the altar painting, standing in front of a wooden barrel cleaning ore.

  • Miner’s Altar (front) Church of St. Annen/Photo Credit: Lianne Oonwalla
  • A woman cleaning ore (right) Miner’s Altar (rear)/Photo Credit: Alexandra Sorina Neacșu

It was considered “irrational” to allow women work on mining sites because this kind of labour often resulted in multiple injuries or even death, therefore women stayed at home looking after the children. One could argue that women drew the longer straw in this situation because working in the mines was uncomfortable and dangerous. However, by not being allowed to participate, the women were excluded from the economic security that this work provided.

Another element of the church stands out as you make your way around the altars the balustrades on either side of the arch display iconography that could be considered stereotypical of gender norms. The ten phases of life from birth to death are represented through the ages of men and women. Depicted with corresponding animal allegories, they clearly define the gender roles expected in the society of that time. Men look noble and courageous, their images tend to be more diverse whereas the females appear more con-generic and indiscreet. The ages of the women are whimsically compared to birds and are defined through relationships to the man, home or children, whereas the men’s ages are linked to rising ranks, bravery and wealth, represented as proud animals.

The balustrade on the right side of the Church depicting the phases of a woman’s life/Photo Credit: Iren Bagdasarian

The Business that Boomed

Not all the women of the Ore Mountains kept quiet in a society where their voices were minimized to that of “housewives”. One woman took matters into her own hands. Barbara Uthmann (1514 – 1575) was the wife of a rich businessman in Annaberg, who left her ownership over several mines after his death. She continued the business of her late husband but is most famous for establishing the bobbin lace making industry in the region. She founded a school to teach young girls and women to make lace, and is believed to have employed around 900 women during her time. A true entrepreneur, she provided steady income for women in the region, which was crucial for them in order to provide for their families, and also for the economic development of the town. Uthmann met resistance from authorities and other powerful businessmen who were uncomfortable with a woman taking this role in society, but her legacy is deeply intertwined with the region’s heritage. Interestingly, St. Anne is also the patron saint of lace making, linking her protection and blessing of the region to both the male and female domains.

The Ore Mountain lace-making culture is still a very important part of the region’s heritage, and classes are offered to children and adults interested in learning the craft. In the village of Frohnau you can simultaneously explore the mining and lace making heritage. Here, an 18 th century manor house once inhabited by the owners of the Frohnauer Hammer, a hammer mill across the street, has been converted into a museum. Tours are available and guides demonstrate traditional lace making techniques passed down through almost 500 years. The ensemble interestingly highlights the divided domains of men and women on one side of the street is a museum dedicated to women’s lace making and on the other side you can visit the beautifully preserved mill where men smelted extracted metals in the old days.

A sample of the lace-making technique/Photo Credit: Lianne Oonwalla

Times Are a-Changin’

An exploration of Annaberg clearly reveals the position held by women in old mining societies. Bound to temporary “above-ground” jobs, they worked equally hard, polishing stones, counting freshly minted coins, or in the case of entrepreneurs like Barbara Uthmann, quietly contributing to the town’s economic and cultural growth. However, the output of the mines slowly declined in the 1600’s and the mining society became an even more exclusive “elite brotherhood” of miners. Women were pushed towards “safer” jobs like tanning and textiles. Despite the gradual exclusion from mining jobs, women like Barbara Uthmann created their own paths, improving the situation for themselves and the women that came after them.

Eventually, after a prosperous history the mines closed down permanently in 1968 most of them are now used mainly for research purposes. In 2008, approximately 800 years after the first mines were opened in the region, the German government finally passed a law allowing women to enter the mines for work, study and research. 11 years later the first woman was deployed into the mines by Bergakademie Freiberg, one of the big changes in the mining history of Saxony. Looking forward, let’s hope that this move inspires women all over the world to dig deeper, mine for inspiration, and create their own history.


By the Treaty of Versailles, the German Reichswehr was limited to a strength of 100,000. Several independent paramilitary Freikorps units were formed from the remnants of the German Imperial Army. The German Freikorps units often did not obey orders from the official government, but the German government assisted in transportation and supplies. [3] Freikorps units fought against the communist groups in Germany and also against Polish insurgents in the East. While Germany had recognized the independent Polish state in the aftermath of Versailles, there were some disputed areas, some of which saw violent conflict.

On April 30, 1921, Polish-Silesian officials led by Wojciech Korfanty, upon finding that Germany would be granted most of the plebiscite area in disputed Upper Silesia, decided to start the Third Uprising [4] even though the government in Warsaw wanted to avoid hostilities at all cost. [5]

On May 2, acts of sabotage by the Polish Wawelberg Group units under Konrad Wawelberg severed all connections between Upper Silesia and Germany.

On May 3, at 3 a.m., the Polish forces started an offensive and in the following days they pushed the small German forces westwards, reaching the line of the Oder River and capturing the 400 m strategic hill of Annaberg on May 4.

It took around two weeks for the Germans to prepare the counteroffensive and to bring in volunteers from other German areas. The leaders settled for Generalleutnant Karl Höfer [6] [7] as commander. Generalleutnant Bernhard von Hülsen would lead the southern force at the Oder, and Oberstleutnant Grüntzen would lead the northern force in the forests. [8]

The German units were strengthened by the arrival of the Freikorps Oberland unit from Bavaria. Its 1650 soldiers were experienced veterans of World War I, under Major Albert Ritter von Beckh. [9] Among members of the FK Oberland were notable figures of the future Nazi Germany, including Sepp Dietrich (who distinguished himself during the battle), [10] Rudolf Höss, Edmund Heines, Beppo Römer, and Peter von Heydebreck, leader of the Werewolves [11] and later pronounced the "hero of Annaberg". [12] Also, there were several student-volunteers from the Bavarian town of Erlangen. [13] The German force also consisted of Silesian paramilitary battalions (Selbstschutzes Oberschlesien), consisting of recently demobilized veterans and men too young to have fought in World War I. [3]

Although the Polish forces outnumbered the German troops in the region, the Germans had more experience than the Poles, many of whom were civilians. [3]

The Annaberg hill with the monastery located on top, was strategically significant as from its peak the whole valley of the Oder/Odra could be dominated. [14] The German-Upper Silesian commanders, Generals Höfer and Hülsen, decided to use three battalions of the Bavarian Oberland, which were transported to Krappitz (Krapkowice), on 19/20 May 1921.

The German counterattack, which began at 2:30 a.m. on May 21, [15] was led by the Oberland Freikorps and Silesian Selbstschutz. Hülsen concentrated his six and a half undersized battalions, [15] numbering roughly 900 men, [1] into two columns to form left and right wings. The Germans launched their offensive, which started from a hill north of the Annaberg, against a regiment of Polish Silesian insurgents from Pless (Pszczyna), under Franciszek Rataj. The Germans lacked artillery, however, and fighting was fierce. Hülsen wrote, "We learned then how painful it could be to mount an assault on a fortified position without a single piece of artillery". [15] Bavarian Oberlanders were able to defeat a Polish counterattack with grenades and bayonets and capture two cannons, which they used in an attack on the town Oleschka (Oleszka) west of the mountain. [15]

After seven hours of heavy combat, the Germans managed to force the Pless regiment to withdraw [16] and then concentrated their attack on the neighboring regiment of Polish volunteers from Kattowitz (Katowice), under Walenty Fojkis, as well as Polish-Silesian battalions from Groß Strehlitz (Strzelce Opolskie) and Tost (Toszek), known as Group Bogdan. Among Polish forces defending the mountain, there were also miners from the Ferdinand coal mine in Kattowitz as well as workers from the Kattowitz suburb of Bogutschütz (Bogucice). [17] Altogether, Polish forces fighting in the area of the Annaberg formed Group East. [18]

At 11:00 a.m. the Germans began a coordinated advance on the mountain: the Finsterlin Battalion from the northwest, the Assault Detachment Heintz from the southwest, the Oestricher Battalion from the east, and the Sebringhaus Battalion and the Eicke Company from the southeast. [15] Under German pressure, the Poles, after heavy hand-to-hand combat, withdrew east. The subsequent Polish counterattack was repelled and the success of the Freikorps was widely reported in Germany, as it was regarded as the first German victory since November 1918. [14]

At the end of the day Polish defenders established defensive positions in Wielmierzowice, Krasowa, Zales Śląski and Popice. According to Hoefer's reports, in the subsequent fighting some of the German battalions were reduced to between 10 and 15% of their initial strength. By the afternoon of the 21st, Polish insurgents had pushed German forces back from Kalinow, Poznowic, Sprzecis and the railway station in Kamień.

On the 22nd, Polish insurgents attacked and took back Raszowa and Daniec and in the Januszkowic region fought back a German attempt at crossing of the Oder.

On May 23, the Poles, after regrouping and strengthening their forces with a battalion from Hindenburg O.S. (Zabrze) under Paweł Cyms, initiated another strong attack, but it was repulsed by the German artillery, with great losses on both sides. Heavy fighting took place in neighboring villages, such as Leschnitz (Leśnica), Lichynia, Krasowa, Dolna, Olszowa and Klucz.

The government of both sides could barely influence events as neither side had solid command structures and forces acted independently. On May 25, the Selbstschutz, under pressure from Berlin, which threatened the Freikorps with serious penalties, [14] decided to initiate peace talks. On the next day, the general command of Polish forces ordered its units to cease fighting. Some additional skirmishes took place around June 4 to June 6.

In early July, Allied troops entered the area and separated the fighting sides. Both Poles and Germans disengaged and retreated. For internal and external political reasons, the contributions of the German fighters were not officially recognized by the government. That supported bitter feelings against the Weimar Republic. [ citation needed ] [ clarification needed ] The reputation of the "Annaberg heroes" helped them in later years, however. [ citation needed ]

The disputed territory of Upper Silesia was subsequently divided between the two countries along voting lines (in the Upper Silesia plebiscite), with Poland receiving the eastern third of the area with the coal mines. [19] The new border followed roughly the line separating the sides at the close of hostilities (see Upper Silesia plebiscite). The Annaberg itself remained part of Germany until 1945, when it was transferred to Poland according to the Potsdam Agreement.


The Annaberg is a volcanic cone of Tertiary basalt, the easternmost end of the Silesian volcanic belt and the easternmost occurrence of basalt in Europe. [1] [2] [3] It is 406 metres (1,332 ft) high. [4] [5]

The hill was a pagan shrine in pre-Christian times. [6] [7]

It was formerly known as the Chelmberg around 1100 a wooden chapel to St. George was built on the hill, [8] and it became known as the Georgenberg (St. George's hill). In 1516 the noble family of von Gaschin, who had moved to Silesia from Poland in the mid-15th century, erected a church dedicated to St. Anne on the Chelmberg. [8] The hill became a popular pilgrimage destination, especially after the donation in 1560 of a wooden statue of St. Anne, containing relics, which is still in the church today. [8]

Count Melchior Ferdinand von Gaschin wanted to make the hill the seat of Franciscans, and during the Swedish-Polish War, the order decided to close its houses in Kraków and Lwów and move to Silesia for safety, and an agreement was made under which they would take over the church on the Annaberg. 22 Franciscans moved there on 1 November 1655. [9] The count had a simple wooden monastery building built and replaced the church with a new stone building which was dedicated on 1 April 1673. [10] The church attracted increasing numbers of pilgrims and led to the hill's becoming known as St. Anne's hill. [5] In addition to pilgrims' hostels and other infrastructure, in the 19th century, three publishing firms were established to serve the needs of pilgrims, by Franz Gielnik, Michael Rogier and Adolf Marcyago. [11] In 1864, 400,000 pilgrims visited the church. [11]

After the First World War, a plebiscite was held on 20 March 1921 under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles to determine whether the parts of Silesia which had belonged to Prussia and thus to the German Empire would remain German or join the reconstituted Poland. In the parish of Annaberg, as in most of Upper Silesia, a majority voted for Germany, but the local administrative district (Landkreis Groß Strehlitz) was one of the areas where the majority favoured union with Poland. In early May the Third Silesian Uprising began, with Polish units of the Wawelberg Group, against the wishes of the Polish government, seeking to unite with Poland those areas that had voted for it. On 4 May they captured the Annaberg, which in addition to the cultural importance of the monastery for German Silesians, had strategic importance since it dominates the Oder valley, [12] from the legally limited forces of the German army. On 21–23 May, in the Battle of Annaberg, unofficial German forces of the Upper Silesian Selbstschutz and the Bavarian Freikorps Oberland, under the command of Generalleutnant Bernhard von Hülsen, retook the hill despite having no artillery of their own. [13] [14] [15] There were heavy losses on both sides and fighting took place in several neighbouring villages. Several participants on the German side were later prominent in the Nazi regime.

With the battle added to its existing role symbolising the Catholic identity of Silesia within predominantly Protestant Prussia, the Annaberg became a powerful symbol of German regional nationalism it features in this role in the 1927 propaganda film Land unterm Kreuz. [16] It also had religious and cultural importance for Polish Silesians it was the subject of a poem by Norbert Bonczyk and after the 1921 battle, also became a political symbol for Poles. [17]

In 1934–1936, the Nazis built a Thingstätte on the site of a quarry at the base of the hill. [18] In 1936–1938, a mausoleum for 51 fallen members of the German Freikorps, designed by Robert Tischler, was erected overlooking this, [18] and a rest stop provided from which users of the new Reichsautobahn (today the Polish A4 autostrada) could take a 10-minute walk to visit the monument. [19] The intent was for the complex of mausoleum and theatre to be a counter to the monastery and "transform the Annaberg into the symbol of Upper Silesia and an appropriate site of religious and national celebration". [20] However, after its inauguration in May 1938, the theatre was not used again for ceremonies, while pilgrims continued to visit the monastery in ever increasing numbers. [20]

The mausoleum was dynamited in 1945 and in 1955 was replaced by a monument to the Silesian rebels, designed by Xawery Dunikowski. [21]

The monks have been expelled from the monastery three times, under Napoleon (in 1810 pilgrims brought their own priests with them and the Franciscans did not return until 1859), [10] Bismarck, and Hitler. When they returned in 1945, they did not reinstate German-language services at the church until June 1989. [22] [23] Helmut Kohl had intended to attend a service there during his reconciliation tour of Poland in November 1989 from which he was recalled by the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November. [24] (This was regarded as an unfortunate choice and Kohl was instead taken to Helmut von Moltke's estate, where a chaotic mass in Polish took place with members of the German minority attempting to sing hymns to St. Anne. [22] [25] ) The monastery today draws thousands of pilgrims every year, particularly from Upper Silesia itself and especially for St. Anne's Day, 26 July, and for the Catholic Church is a symbol of piety that transcends national boundaries. [26] In March 1980, Pope John Paul II declared the church a minor basilica. [27]

On 14 April 2004, the Annaberg was declared a Polish historic monument. [28] [29]

Monastery Edit

The monastery buildings, at the top of the hill, are Baroque the church was rebuilt in 1665 and the other buildings, which form a quadrangle on its south side, date to 1733–49. [5] [30] The main object of veneration by the pilgrims is a statue of St. Anne with the Virgin and Child carved out of lime wood above the main altar in the church, about 66 centimetres (26 in) tall, which supposedly contains relics of the saint from the monastery of Ville near Lyons in France and is credited with miracles. It is said to have been donated to the church by Nikolaus von Kochtitzky, a local nobleman, in 1560, and is dressed in cloth of gold with pearls. [8] [11] [23]

Outside the church is the Paradiesplatz (Paradise Square), a formal monastery garden laid out in 1804. [11] Below the monastery there is a Calvary (a path between stations of the Passion of Christ) with 33 Baroque chapels as stations. [23] This was specified in the will of Count Melchior Ferdinand von Gaschin, who thought the landscape of the Annaberg resembled that of Jerusalem and its surroundings it was constructed under his nephew, Georg Adam von Gaschin, in 1700–09 [10] to designs by Domenico Signo and partly rebuilt in 1764 and again in 1780–85, when the Holy Stairs were added to designs by Christoph Worbs. [31] [32] Georg Adam and Anton von Gaschin are buried in the crypt of the Cross Chapel and depicted larger than life on its central columns. [33] In 1912 the Lourdes Grotto was added. [23] [34]

Amphitheatre Edit

The Thingstätte or open-air theatre for Thingspiele, Nazi multi-disciplinary performances, was built in 1934–36, the first in Silesia. It was designed by Franz Böhmer and Georg Pettich and had seats for 7,000, standing room for 20,000, and the capacity to hold up to 50,000. [18] Since the war it has been used for harvest festivals and concerts and attempts have been made to fund restoration, but in 2008 the stonework was in serious disrepair. [35]

Mausoleum Edit

In 1936–38, a mausoleum for the 51 Freikorps members who had died in the Battle of Annaberg was added at the top of the cliff above the amphitheatre. It was designed by Robert Tischler, chief architect for the German War Graves Commission, in military style, recalling a medieval fortress such as the Hohenstaufen Castel del Monte. [36] One writer at the time compared it to a gun turret. [37] [38] It was circular, with heavy columns of rusticated sandstone surmounted by eternal flames, and a narrow entrance leading to an ambulatory lit only by narrow windows reminiscent of gun-slits, while on the other side a dark stairway suggestive of passage between worlds led down into the crypt cut out of the rock. Niches contained sarcophagi labelled with stages in the military history of Germany from 1914 to "1931/32: Deutschland erwache!" (Germany, awake!), and in the centre was a statue of a fallen warrior in green porphyry, by Fritz Schmoll known as Eisenwerth, which the sculptor and his assistants had created in place during construction of the monument because it would have been too large to bring through the entrance. A cupola admitted diffused light, and predominantly gold mosaics by Rössler of Dresden and Klemm of Munich depicted stylised German eagles and swastikas. [37] [39] A 1938 description in a publication of the War Graves Commission described the dead there as "keep[ing] watch on the border and encourag[ing] the border region and its people to preserve German character and German faith" and pointed out the location midway between the Hindenburg monument at Tannenberg and the monuments in the Königsplatz in Munich. [40] The surroundings of the monument were made a nature preserve, and to complete their pilgrimage, visitors had to walk up from the level of the theatre through the natural environment. [41]

Tischler designed several monuments in a similar somewhat rustic style reminiscent both of medieval fortresses and of the Hindenburg monument. [42]

Monument to the uprising Edit

The mausoleum was dynamited in 1945 and in 1955 a monument to the Silesian rebels (Polish: Pomnik Czynu Powstańczego), designed by Xawery Dunikowski, was dedicated in its place on the tenth anniversary of the liberation. [43] This is a simple classical design with four pillars in rectangular section surrounding an eternal flame and supporting architraves, under which are four massive granite sculptures of "Silesian heads". There are industrial symbols on the gables. On the inside, the pillars are decorated with stylised depictions of miners, Silesian peasants, ironworkers, and a mother with a child on her arm in the manner of caryatids, while the exterior surfaces have drawings outlined in lead of everyday and work scenes from the present and the past and scenes of the uprising itself. [21] These included conflicts with the Germans since the medieval period of the Teutonic Knights, implying eternal enmity between Germans and Poles, and for the 25th anniversary of the uprising in 1946, urns containing ashes of people killed by the Nazis in the Warsaw Uprising had been interred there. [43] However, by 1955 the anti-German message was overshadowed by the message of praise for the forerunners of the Communist state. [43]

Dunikowski had already sketched ideas for the monument in early 1946, and won a contest to design it, but he was less expert as an architect than as a sculptor and was under official pressure, and the building does not have the intended impressive effect. [44]


Geology Edit

The Ore Mountains are a Hercynian block tilted so as to present a steep scarp face towards Bohemia and a gentle slope on the German side. [4] They were formed during a lengthy process:

During the folding of the Variscan orogeny, metamorphism occurred deep underground, forming slate and gneiss. In addition, granite plutons intruded into the metamorphic rocks. By the end of the Palaeozoic era, the mountains had been eroded into gently undulating hills (the Permian massif), exposing the hard rocks.

In the Tertiary period these mountain remnants came under heavy pressure as a result of plate tectonic processes during which the Alps were formed and the North American and Eurasian plates were separated. As the rock of the Ore Mountains was too brittle to be folded, it shattered into an independent fault block which was uplifted and tilted to the northwest. This can be very clearly seen at a height of 807 m above sea level (NN) on the mountain of Komáří vížka which lies on the Czech side, east of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld, right on the edge of the fault block.

Consequently, it is a fault-block mountain range which, today has been incised by a whole range of river valleys whose rivers drain southwards into the Eger and northwards into the Mulde or directly into the Elbe. This process is known as dissection.

The Ore Mountains are geologically considered to be one of the most heavily researched mountain ranges in the world.

The main geologic feature in the Ore Mountains is the Late Paleozoic Eibenstock granite pluton, which is exposed for 25 miles along its northwest–southeast axis and up to 15 miles in width. This pluton is surrounded by progressive zones of contact metamorphism in which Paleozoic slates and phyllites have been changed to spotted hornfels, andalusite hornfels, and quartzites. Two key mineral centers intersect this pluton at Joachimsthal, one trending northwesterly from Schneeberg through Johanngeorgenstadt to Joachimsthal, and a second trending north–south from Freiberg through Marienberg, Annaberg, Niederschlag, Joachimsthal, and Schlaggenwald. Late Tertiary faulting and volcanism gave rise to basalt and phonolite dikes. Ore veins include iron, copper, tin, tungsten, lead, silver, cobalt, bismuth, uranium, plus iron and manganese oxides. [5]

The most important rocks occurring in the Ore Mountains are schist, phyllite and granite with contact metamorphic zones in the west, basalt as remnants in the Plešivec (Pleßberg), Scheibenberg, Bärenstein, Pöhlberg, Velký Špičák (Großer Spitzberg or Schmiedeberger Spitzberg), Jelení hora (Haßberg) and Geisingberg as well as gneisses and rhyolite (Kahleberg) in the east. The soils consist of rapidly leaching grus. In the western and central areas of the mountains it is formed from weathered granite. Phyllite results in a loamy, rapidly weathered gneiss in the east of the mountains producing a light soil. As a result of the subsoils based on granite and rhyolite, the land is mostly covered in forest on the gneiss soils it was possible to grow and cultivate flax in earlier centuries and, later, rye, oats and potatoes up to the highlands. Today the land is predominantly used for pasture. But it is not uncommon to see near-natural mountain meadows.

To the north of the Ore Mountains, west of Chemnitz and around Zwickau lies the Ore Mountain Basin which is only really known geologically. Here there are deposits of stone coal where mining has already been abandoned. A similar but smaller basin with abandoned coal deposits, the Döhlen Basin, is located southwest of Dresden on the northern edge of the Ore Mountains. It forms the transition to the Elbe Valley zone.

Terrain Edit

The western part of the Ore Mountains is home to the two highest peaks of the range: Klínovec, located in the Czech part, with an altitude of 1,244 metres (4,081 ft) and Fichtelberg, the highest mountain of Saxony, Germany, at 1,214 metres (3,983 ft). The Ore Mountains are part of a larger mountain system and adjoin the Fichtel Mountains to the west and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains to the east. Past the River Elbe, the mountain chain continues as the Lusatian Mountains. While the mountains slope gently away in the northern (German) part, the southern (Czech) slopes are rather steep.

Topography Edit

The Ore Mountains are oriented in a southwest–northeast direction and are about 150 km long and, on average, about 40 km wide. From a geomorphological perspective the range is divided into the Western, Central and Eastern Ore Mountains, separated by the valleys of the Schwarzwasser and Zwickauer Mulde and the Flöha ("Flöha Line"), the division of the western section along the River Schwarzwasser is of a more recent date. The Eastern Ore Mountains mainly comprise large, gently climbing plateaux, in contrast with the steeper and higher-lying western and central areas, and are dissected by river valleys that frequently change direction. The crest of the mountains themselves forms, in all three regions, a succession of plateaux and individual peaks.

To the east it is adjoined by the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and, to the west, by the Elster Mountains and other Saxon parts of the Vogtland. South(east) of the Central and Eastern Ore Mountains lies the North Bohemian Basin and, immediately east of that, the Bohemian Central Uplands which are separated from the Eastern Ore Mountains by narrow fingers of the aforementioned basin. South(east) of the Western Ore Mountains lie the Sokolov Basin, the Eger Graben and the Doupov Mountains. To the north the boundary is less sharply defined because the Ore Mountains, a typical example of a fault-block, descend very gradually.

The topographical transition from the Western and Central Ore Mountains to the loess hill country to the north between Zwickau and Chemnitz is referred to as the Ore Mountain Basin that from the Eastern Ore Mountains as the Ore Mountain Foreland. Between Freital and Pirna, the area is called the Dresden Ore Mountain Foreland (Dresdner Erzgebirgsvorland) or Bannewitz-Possendorf-Burkhardswald Plateau (Bannewitz-Possendorf-Burkhardswalder Plateau). Geologically the Ore Mountains reach the city limits of Dresden at the Windberg hill near Freital and the Karsdorf Fault. The V-shaped valleys of the Ore Mountains break through this fault and the shoulder of the Dresden Basin.

The Ore Mountains belong to the Bohemian Massif within Europe's Central Uplands, a massif that also includes the Upper Palatine Forest, the Bohemian Forest, the Bavarian Forest, the Lusatian Mountains, the Iser Mountains, the Giant Mountains and the Inner-Bohemian Mountains. At the same time it forms a y-shaped mountain chain, along with the Upper Palatine Forest, Bohemian Forest, Fichtel Mountains, Franconian Forest, Thuringian Slate Mountains and Thuringian Forest, that has no unique name but is characterised by a rather homogeneous climate.

According to cultural tradition, Zwickau is seen historically as part of the Ore Mountains, Chemnitz is seen historically as just lying outside them, but Freiberg is included. The supposed limit of the Ore Mountains continues southwest of Dresden towards the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. From this perspective, its main characteristics, i.e., gently sloping plateaus climbing up to the ridgeline incised by V-shaped valleys, continue to the southern edge of the Dresden Basin. North of the Ore Mountains the landscape gradually transitions into the Saxon Lowland and Saxon Elbeland. Its cultural-geographical transition to Saxon Switzerland in the area of the Müglitz and Gottleuba valleys is not sharply defined.

Notable peaks Edit

The highest mountain in the Ore Mountains is the Klínovec (German: Keilberg), at 1,244 metres, in the Bohemian part of the range. The highest elevation on the Saxon side is the 1,215-metre-high Fichtelberg, which was the highest mountain in East Germany. The Ore Mountains contain about thirty summits with a height over 1,000 m above sea level (NN) , but not all are clearly defined mountains. Most of them occur around the Klínovec and the Fichtelberg. About a third of them are located on the Saxon side of the border.

Important rivers Edit

Natural regions in the Saxon Ore Mountains Edit

In the division of Germany into natural regions that was carried out Germany-wide in the 1950s [6] the Ore Mountains formed major unit group 42:

  • 42 Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge)
    • 420 Southern slopes of the Ore Mountains (Südabdachung des Erzgebirges)
    • 421 Upper Western Ore Mountains (Oberes Westerzgebirge)
    • 422 Upper Eastern Ore Mountains (Oberes Osterzgebirge)
    • 423 Lower Western Ore Mountains (Unteres Westerzgebirge)
    • 424 Lower Eastern Ore Mountains (Unteres Osterzgebirge)

    Even after the reclassification of natural regions by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in 1994 the Ore Mountains, region D16, remained a major unit group with almost unchanged boundaries. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, the working group Naturhaushalt und Gebietscharakter of the Saxon Academy of Sciences (Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften) in Leipzig merged the Ore Mountains with the major unit group of Vogtland to the west and the major landscape units of Saxon Switzerland, Lusatian Highlands and Zittau Mountains to the east into one overarching unit, the Saxon Highlands and Uplands. In addition, its internal divisions were changed. Former major unit 420 was grouped with the western part of major units 421 and 423 to form a new major unit, the Western Ore Mountains (Westerzgebirge), the eastern part of major units 421 and 423 became the Central Ore Mountains (Mittelerzgebirge) and major units 422 and 424 became the Eastern Ore Mountains (Osterzgebirge).

    The current division therefore looks as follows: [7]

      (Sächsisches Bergland und Mittelgebirge)
        Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge)
          (Westerzgebirge) (Mittelerzgebirge) (Osterzgebirge)

        The geographic unit of the Southern Slopes of the Ore Mountains remains unchanged under the title of Southern Ore Mountains (Süderzgebirge).

        Climate Edit

        The climate of the higher regions of the Ore Mountains is characterised as distinctly harsh. Temperatures are considerably lower all year round than in the lowlands, and the summer is noticeably shorter and cool days are frequent. The average annual temperatures only reach values of 3 to 5 °C. In Oberwiesenthal, at a height of 922 m above sea level (NN) , on average only about 140 frost-free days per year are observed. Based on reports of earlier chroniclers, the climate of the upper Ore Mountains in past centuries must have been even harsher than it is today. Historic sources describe hard winters in which cattle froze to death in their stables, and occasionally houses and cellars were snowed in even after snowfalls in April. The population was regularly cut off from the outside world. [8] The upper Ore Mountains was therefore nicknamed Saxon Siberia already in the 18th century. [9]

        The fault block mountain range that climbs from northwest to southeast, and which enables prolonged rain to fall as orographic rain when weather systems drive in from the west and northwest, gives rise to twice as much precipitation as in the lowlands which exceeds 1,100 mm on the upper reaches of the mountains. Since a large part of the precipitation falls as snow, in many years a thick and permanent layer of snow remains until April. The ridges of the Ore Mountains are one of the snowiest areas in the German Central Uplands. Foehn winds, and also the so-called Bohemian Wind may occur during certain specific southerly weather conditions.

        As a result of the climate and the heavy amounts of snow a natural Dwarf Mountain Pine region is found near Satzung, near the border to Bohemia at just under 900 m above sea level (NN) . By comparison, in the Alps these pines do not occur until 1,600 to 1,800 m above sea level (NN) .

        Even as the first settlements were established there were small finds tin, iron and copper.

        But when, in 1168, rich silver finds were discovered in the area of Freiberg, it precipitated the First Berggeschrey. Upon hearing the news of rich silver deposits miners, traders, charcoal burners and vagabonds quickly poured into this, at that time, inhospitable area. "Where a man wants to look for ore, he is allowed to do so with rights" the Margrave of Meissen, owner of the rights to use the mountain (mining rights), had asserted to the settlers flooding into the area. In order to settle the miners, who mostly came from the Harz Mountains, they were exempt from the feudal obligations to their landlords and so were able to devote themselves entirely to their work. However they had to pay a direct tax in the form of a mining tithe (Bergzehnt) to their local lords.

        Over the course of the centuries, the search for ore extended to the crests of the Ore Mountains. In 1470, three hundred years after the First Berggeschrey, rich silver ore deposits were discovered in Schneeberg [2] and in 1491/92 on the Schreckenberg in present-day Annaberg-Buchholz. This news resulted in the Second Berggeschrey, which was also known as the Great Berggeschrey. Feverish mining activity and the associated influx of people from other regions spread to the whole Ore Mountains. By the end of the 15th century it was much more densely populated than hitherto. It was at that time that the mining towns of Jáchymov (Sankt Joachimsthal), Annaberg, Buchholz, Schneeberg and Marienberg emerged.

        In the post-war years from 1946 onwards, almost eight hundred years after the First Berggeschrey, activity comparable to the gold rush broke out again in the Ore Mountains as a result of uranium ore mining by the SDAG Wismut. This is nicknamed the Drittes Bergeschrei ("Third Bergeschrei"), using the modern German spelling of the word Bergeschrey. As a result of the rapid and reckless boom the population grew sharply in several places (see e. g. Johanngeorgenstadt). Especially in the early days of the Wismut mining operation considerable damage was done to the environment, historic village centres and infrastructure (e.g. spa house and facilities of the internationally renowned Schlema radium spa) were destroyed and there were serious health problems amongst the Wismut miners at the time.

        Apart from silver and uranium, tin, iron, copper, arsenic, lead, cobalt, nickel, bismuth (Wismut), tungsten and zinc were mined in the Ore Mountains.

        After the political Wende mining operations by SDAG Wismut were shut down completely after 1990. It had been the largest employer and the most important economic factor in the region. Today, the pits of the lime works in the Lengefeld village of Kalkwerk represent the last working mine using mineshafts in the state of Saxony on the northern side of the Ore Mountains. The whole Ore Mountain Mining Region (Montanregion Erzgebirge) with its above-ground mining facilities, show mines, technical monuments, mining education paths and the traditions of local people are witnesses to these three key epochs in mining history.

        The Annaberg Mountain Altar - History

        A 3,100-year-old human skeleton was found at a mountaintop altar to Zeus in Greece. Is this an example of an ancient Greek human sacrifice? Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture.

        On a mountain peak in southern Greece, archaeologists have made an unusual discovery: a human burial within an ancient altar dedicated to Zeus. The find was recently reported by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

        Located in the mountains of southwestern Arcadia, in Greece’s Peloponnese, the archaeological site of Mt. Lykaion is impressively situated in its landscape. From the peak of the mountain, where the altar is located, one can see to the plain of Elis to the northwest and the Messenian gulf to the south on a clear day. Greek texts of the Classical period, including Pindar, Thucydides and Plato, attest that the site was sacred to Zeus, the principal god of the Greek pantheon, and played host to athletic competitions as part of the god’s festivals.

        Archaeological investigation at the site, however, has shown that human activity on Mt. Lykaion far predates the Classical era. Excavation of the mountaintop altar undertaken by the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project, under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Service and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, between 2007 and 2010 turned up pottery dating back as far as the Final Neolithic period (c. fifth–fourth millennium B.C.E.), with Early and Middle Bronze Age remains also recovered. During the Late Bronze Age Mycenaean period (c. 15th–13th c. B.C.E.), however, the rate of ceramic deposition on the peak greatly increased, and it is also during this period that burnt and unburnt offerings of sacrificed animals—sheep/goat, cattle, and pig—are first attested.

        The site continued in use following the gradual collapse of the Mycenaean palatial system during the course of the 13th century B.C.E., and into the Early Iron Age (c. 12th–8th century B.C.E.), as attested by both ceramics and C14 dates on burned animal bones. The remains of this Iron Age activity are significant in placing Mt. Lykaion among a small number of Greek sites at which there is possible evidence for a continuation of ritual practice from the Mycenaean period into historical times. The deposition on the altar of burned bones and pottery related to wine-drinking continued into the Archaic and Classical periods (c. eighth–fourth centuries B.C.E.) the latest artifacts that archaeologists have found on the peak of Mt. Lykaion date to the early Hellenistic period (late fourth century B.C.E.), following the reign of Alexander the Great.

        The peak of Mt. Lykaion on which the ash altar of Zeus is located, seen from the north. Photo: Dan Diffendale.

        The repeated burning and deposition of animal bones on the peak of the mountain resulted in the accumulation of a mound of ashes that served as a platform for yet more sacrifices. The fullest ancient account of this kind of altar, termed an “ash altar” by modern archaeologists, is given by the second-century C.E. Roman writer Pausanias in his description (5.13.8–10) of the famous sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, which lies just 23.6 miles NW of Mt. Lykaion:

        It has been made from the ash of the thighs of the victims sacrificed to Zeus … The first stage of the altar at Olympia, called prothysis, has a circumference of one hundred and twenty-five feet the circumference of the stage on the prothysis is thirty-two feet the total height of the altar reaches to twenty-two feet. The victims themselves it is the custom to sacrifice on the lower stage, the prothysis. But the thighs they carry up to the highest part of the altar and burn them there. The steps that lead up to the prothysis from either side are made of stone, but those leading from the prothysis to the upper part of the altar are, like the altar itself, composed of ashes.

        Micromorphological analysis undertaken during previous work by the Mt. Lykaion team has shown that the sediment of the altar is largely composed of the remains of wood ash and calcined bone. Analysis of the bones recovered during the first four years of excavation, from 2007 to 2010, showed that sheep/goat made up the majority of the sacrifices, accounting for between 94 and 98 percent of the remains, with the additional presence of domestic pig and cow no human remains were identified. Crucial in identifying sacrificial practice is the composition of the animal remains—these are almost entirely thighbones and tailbones, known from other sources as key elements of Greek animal sacrifice. Repeated animal sacrifices on the altar over centuries created a deposit of sediment that today measures from one to almost five feet at its deepest point.

        Tracing the enigmatic, mystical genesis of the Greek Olympiad, The Olympic Games: How They All Began takes you on a journey to ancient Greece with some of the finest scholars of the ancient world. Ranging from the original religious significance of the games to the brutal athletic competitions, this free eBook paints a picture of the ancient sports world and its devoted fans.

        A human burial was discovered at the center of the altar to Zeus at Mt. Lykaion. Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture.

        It was in the center of the vestiges of this ash altar that the Mt. Lykaion team discovered the inhumation burial of an individual, whose remains were found articulated within a stone-lined cist oriented east–west, with the head toward the west. Stones similar to the lining of the cist were preserved covering the individual’s pelvic region. The individual’s cranium was not recovered, though ruling out post-depositional disturbance as a possible culprit for the missing element must await a full publication of the excavation stratigraphy.

        Preliminary analysis suggests the individual was an adolescent male. The archaeologists have tentatively dated the burial to the 11th century B.C.E. on the basis of associated ceramic material.
        The discovery of a human burial not just within a sanctuary, but within the center of the altar itself, is highly unusual. Although cases of hero cult, wherein sacrificial offerings are made on the grave of a deceased individual perceived as a divinized or semidivine hero, are known from elsewhere in the Greek world, such burials are not usually made within already existing altars. Nor are there unambiguous occurrences of hero-cult predating the eighth century B.C.E. If the 11th-century B.C.E. date for the Lykaion burial is correct, the insertion of the burial could suggest a shift in the nature of ritual practice between the Mycenaean and later use of the mountaintop.

        View of the peak of Mt. Lykaion with part of the area of the ash altar, looking northwest. Photo: Dan Diffendale.

        The discovery has spurred speculation on the nature of the burial and the individual’s cause of death, with numerous, somewhat sensationalized, news reports looking to later stories of Greek human sacrifice for answers. In addition to the athletic competitions at the festival of Zeus, certain ancient Greek and Roman authors refer or allude to the practice of human sacrifice at Mt. Lykaion. The earliest such reference occurs in Plato’s Republic (8.565d–e), some seven centuries after the possible date of the Lykaion burial, when Socrates asks his interlocutor Adeimantos, “What, then, is the starting-point of the transformation of a protector into a tyrant? Is it not obviously when the protector’s acts begin to reproduce the legend that is told of the shrine of Zeus Lykaios in Arcadia? … The story goes that he who tastes of the one bit of human entrails minced up with those of other victims is inevitably transformed into a wolf. Have you not heard the tale?” Adeimantos replies, “I have.”

        Half a millennium after Plato, the traveler Pausanias visited the sanctuary. Of the altar, he wrote, with somewhat more circumspection (8.38.7):

        On the highest point of the mountain is a mound of earth, forming an altar of Zeus Lykaios, and from it most of the Peloponnesus can be seen. Before the altar on the east stand two pillars, on which there were of old gilded eagles. On this altar they sacrifice in secret to Zeus Lykaios. I was reluctant to pry into the details of the sacrifice let them be as they are and were from the beginning.

        Mt. Lykaion project director Dr. David Gilman Romano, Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology at the University of Arizona, told the Associated Press, “Whether it’s a sacrifice or not, this is a sacrificial altar … so it’s not a place where you would bury an individual. It’s not a cemetery.” Archaeologist Ioannis Mylonopoulos, Assistant Professor of Art History at Columbia University, who was not involved with the excavation, shared with the Washington Post his suspicion that the burial could postdate the primary use of the altar.

        The lower sanctuary to Zeus Lykaios at Mt. Lykaion. Photo: Greek Ministry of Culture.

        The possible resolution of these and other questions awaits a full osteological analysis of the individual and a thorough publication of the excavation. Even once these studies have been completed, however, the sacrifice question could remain open a violent death would not necessarily have left physical traces on the skeleton. Whatever the results of the osteological study, the discovery of a burial within the area of the ash altar on Mt. Lykaion is a significant discovery that will change our understanding of the development of the site.

        In addition to the ash altar, a complex of structures further down the mountain makes up a further part of the sanctuary of Zeus Lykaios. The Mt. Lykaion Project team has also been working in this lower sanctuary. Among the discoveries in 2016 were further elements of a c. six-foot-wide stone-built corridor dated to the fourth century B.C.E., including a stone archway and staircase. Previous excavation within the corridor had established that this structure went out of use by the third century B.C.E., when it began to be used as a dump for vast quantities of pottery and animal bones, almost certainly the remains of banqueting and feasting in the sanctuary. This dumping continued until the end of the first century B.C.E.

        The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project expects to continue excavating through the year 2020.

        Dan Diffendale is a Ph.D. candidate in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan, with particular interests in the architecture and archaeology of Iron Age and later religious practice in the central Mediterranean. He worked at Mt. Lykaion from 2007 to 2010, but was not involved with the 2016 excavation.


        The history of the village is closely connected to the Inselberg rising from the plain , which served cultic purposes from an early age. On this Chelmberg , as the Annaberg was originally called, a church was built in an exposed location between 1480 and 1485 , the wooden statue of Anna herself soon became a destination for pilgrims. The village became Bohemian in 1327 and fell to Habsburg in 1635 . Melchior Ferdinand von Gaschin appointed Franciscans (OFM) to the Chelmberg in 1655, where they built a monastery and later a Calvary .

        Annaberg, meanwhile the most important place of pilgrimage in Upper Silesia , was assigned to Prussian in 1742 and to the district of Groß Strehlitz in 1816. Felix Triest described the place as a “market town” in 1861, at that time Annaberg had 641 inhabitants who were mainly active in the handicrafts favored by the numerous pilgrims. The completely Catholic population was parish in Leschnitz .

        In the referendum on March 20, 1921, 403 eligible voters voted to remain with Germany and 91 for Poland. Annaberg remained with the Weimar Republic . In the wake of the referendum, there was an open battle between Polish and German units on Annaberg from May 21 to 27, 1921, the climax of which was the storming of Annaberg by a free corps called "Upper Silesian Self-Protection" and the occupation of the mountain on May 21, 1921 . The uprising itself ended on July 5, 1921 with an armistice agreement that came about under pressure from the Allies (see uprisings in Upper Silesia ).

        The rural community Annaberg belonged to the district Wyssoka, which was renamed "Annaberg" in 1933 under the new National Socialist rulers. A year later, on July 18, 1934, the name was changed to "Sankt Annaberg", whereupon in 1941 the name was again changed to the more secular "Annaberg OS". As early as 1939, the former seat of the administrative district, the Wyssoka renamed "Hohenkirch", was incorporated into the municipality of St. Annaberg. In 1940 the German authorities set up a forced labor camp . It served to expand the planned RAB 29 Reichsautobahn from Breslau to Katowice.

        In 1945 the place fell to Poland and from then on bore the Polish name Góra Świętej Anny as the official place name. It remained the destination of many pilgrims. In 1950 the place came to the Opole Voivodeship, in 1999 to the restored powiat Strzelecki . In 1983 Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger visited the pilgrimage site.

        In 2006 the municipality of Leschnitz , to which the town of Sankt Annaberg belongs, introduced German as an auxiliary language and in 2008 a bilingual place name.


        The word karmel means "garden-land" [1] and is of uncertain origin. It is either a compound of kerem and el, meaning "vineyard of God" or a clipping of kar male, meaning "full kernel." [2] Martin Jan Mulder suggested a third etymology, that of kerem + l with the lamed a sufformative, but this is considered unlikely as evidence for the existence of a lamed sufformative is weak. [3]

        The phrase "Mount Carmel" has been used in three distinct ways: [4]

        • To refer to the 39-km-long (24-mile-long) mountain range, stretching as far in the southeast as Jenin.
        • To refer to the northwestern 21 km (13 mi) of the mountain range.
        • To refer to the headland at the northwestern end of the range.

        The Carmel range is approximately 6.5 to 8 kilometres (4.0 to 5.0 miles) wide, sloping gradually towards the southwest, but forming a steep ridge on the northeastern face, 546 metres (1,791 feet) high. The Jezreel Valley lies to the immediate northeast. The range forms a natural barrier in the landscape, just as the Jezreel Valley forms a natural passageway, and consequently the mountain range and the valley have had a large impact on migration and invasions through the Levant over time. [4]

        The mountain formation is an admixture of limestone and flint, containing many caves, and covered in several volcanic rocks. [4] [5]

        The sloped side of the mountain is covered with luxuriant vegetation, including oak, pine, olive, and laurel trees. [5]

        Several modern towns are located on the range, including Yokneam on the eastern ridge Zikhron Ya'akov on the southern slope the Druze communities of Daliyat al-Karmel and Isfiya on the more central part of the ridge and the towns of Nesher, Tirat Hakarmel, and the city of Haifa, on the far northwestern promontory and its base. There is also a small kibbutz called Beit Oren, which is located on one of the highest points in the range to the southeast of Haifa.

        Palaeolithic and Epipalaeolithic Edit

        As part of a 1929–1934 campaign, [6] between 1930 and 1932, Dorothy Garrod excavated four caves, and a number of rock shelters, in the Carmel mountain range at el-Wad, el-Tabun, and Es Skhul. [7] Garrod discovered Neanderthal and early modern human remains, including the skeleton of a Neanderthal female, named Tabun I, which is regarded as one of the most important human fossils ever found. [8] The excavation at el-Tabun produced the longest stratigraphic record in the region, spanning 600,000 or more years of human activity. [9] The four caves and rock-shelters (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad, and Skhul) together yield results from the Lower Paleolithic to the present day, representing roughly a million years of human evolution. [10] There are also several well-preserved burials of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens and the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer groups to complex, sedentary agricultural societies is extensively documented at the site. Taken together, these emphasize the paramount significance of the Mount Carmel caves for the study of human cultural and biological evolution within the framework of palaeo-ecological changes." [11]

        In 2012, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee added the sites of human evolution at Mount Carmel to the List of World Heritage Sites. [12] [13] [14] The World Heritage Site includes four caves (Tabun, Jamal, el-Wad, and Skhul) on the southern side of the Nahal Me’arot/Wadi El-Mughara Valley. The site fulfils criteria in two separate categories, "natural" and "cultural". [13]

        Ancient agriculture: olive oil and wine Edit

        Archaeologists have discovered ancient wine and oil presses at various locations on Mount Carmel. [4] [5]

        As a strategic location Edit

        Hebrew Bible Edit

        Due to the lush vegetation on the sloped hillside, and many caves on the steeper side, Carmel became the haunt of criminals [4] Carmel was seen as a place offering an escape from God, as implied by the Book of Amos. [4] [15] According to the Books of Kings, Elisha travelled to Carmel straight after cursing a group of young men because they had mocked him and the ascension of Elijah by jeering, "Go on up, bald man!" After this, bears came out of the forest and mauled 42 of them. [16] This does not necessarily imply that Elisha had sought asylum there from any potential backlash, [4] although the description in the Book of Amos, of the location being a refuge, is dated by textual scholars to be earlier than the accounts of Elisha in the Books of Kings. [17] [18]

        Roman and Byzantine periods Edit

        According to Strabo, Mount Carmel continued to be a place of refuge until at least the first century. [19]

        According to Josephus [20] and Epiphanius, [21] Mount Carmel had been the stronghold of the Essenes that came from a place in Galilee named Nazareth this Essene group are sometimes referred to as Nazareans, possibly akin to the Nazarenes, which followed the teachings of Jesus. [22]

        World War I Edit

        During World War I, Mount Carmel played a significant strategic role. The Battle of Megiddo took place at the head of a pass through the Carmel Ridge, which overlooks the Valley of Jezreel from the south. General Allenby led the British in the battle, which was a turning point in the war against the Ottoman Empire. The Jezreel Valley had played host to many battles before, including the very historically significant Battle of Megiddo between the Egyptians and Canaanites in the 15th century BCE, but it was only in the 20th-century battle that the Carmel Ridge itself played a significant part, due to the development in artillery and munitions. [ citation needed ]

        As a sacred location Edit

        Canaanites Edit

        In ancient Canaanite culture, high places were frequently considered to be sacred, and Mount Carmel appears to have been no exception Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III lists a holy headland among his Canaanite territories, and if this equates to Carmel, as Egyptologists such as Maspero believe, then it would indicate that the mountain headland was considered sacred from at least the 15th century BCE. [4]

        Israelites and Hebrew Bible Edit

        Altar to Yahweh Edit

        According to the Books of Kings, there was an altar to Yahweh on the mountain, which had fallen into ruin by the time of Ahab, but Elijah built a new one (1 Kings 18:30–32).

        Elijah Edit

        In mainstream Jewish, Christian, and Islamic [4] thought, Elijah is indelibly associated with the mountain, and he is regarded as having sometimes resided in a grotto on the mountain. Indeed, one Arabic name for Mount Carmel is جبل مار إلياس (Jabal Mar Elyas, lit. "Mount of Saint Elias"). In the Books of Kings, Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a contest at the altar on Mount Carmel to determine whose deity was genuinely in control of the Kingdom of Israel. As the narrative is set during the rule of Ahab and his association with the Phoenicians, biblical scholars suspect that the Baal in question was probably Melqart. [23]

        According to chapter 18 of the Book of Kings in the Hebrew Bible, the challenge was to see which deity could light a sacrifice by fire. After the prophets of Baal had failed, Elijah had water poured upon his sacrifice to saturate the altar. He then prayed. Fire fell and consumed the sacrifice, wood, stones, soil and water, which prompted the Israelite witnesses to proclaim, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" In the account, Elijah also announced the end to a long three-year drought, which had previously been sent as divine punishment for Israel's idolatry.

        Though there is no biblical reason to assume that the account of Elijah's victory refers to any particular part of Mount Carmel, [4] Islamic tradition places it at a point known as El-Maharrakah or rather El-Muhraqa, meaning the burning. [5]

        Two areas have been hypothesized as the possible site for the story about the battle against the priests of Baal. The slaughter could have taken place near the river Kishon, at the mountain base, in an amphitheater-like flat area. The site where the offering took place is traditionally placed on the mountain above Yokneam, on the road to the Druze village of Daliyat el-Karmil, where there is a monastery, built in 1868, called El-Muhraqa ("the burning", possibly related to the burnt sacrifice"). It is regarded as one of the must-visit tour sites in the area of Haifa. [24] (See below under "Carmelites (12th c.–present): El-Muhraqa site" for more).

        Although archaeological clues are absent, the site is favoured because it has a spring, from which water could have been drawn to wet Elijah's offering. There is also a sea view, where Elijah looked out to see the cloud announcing rain. However, the biblical text states that Elijah had to climb up to see the sea. There is an altar in the monastery which is claimed to be that which Elijah built in God's honour, but that is unlikely, as it's not made of the local limestone. [25]

        Hellenistic and Roman periods Edit

        Iamblichus describes Pythagoras visiting the mountain on account of its reputation for sacredness, stating that it was the most holy of all mountains, and access was forbidden to many, while Tacitus states that there was an oracle situated there, which Vespasian visited for a consultation [5] Tacitus states that there was an altar there, but without any image upon it, and without a temple around it. [26]

        Carmelites (12th century – present) Edit

        A Catholic religious order was founded on Mount Carmel in 1209, named the Carmelites, in reference to the mountain range the founder of the Carmelites is still unknown (d.1265). [27] In the original Rule or 'Letter of Life' given by Albert, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem who was resident in Acre, around the year 1210, this hermit is referred to simply as 'Brother B' he probably died around the date 1210 and could have been either a pilgrim, someone serving out a penance or a crusader who had stayed in the Holy Land. [ citation needed ]

        Although Louis IX of France is sometimes named as the founder, he was not, and had merely visited it in 1252. [5]

        The Order was founded at the site that it claimed had been the location of Elijah's cave, 1,700 feet (520 m) above sea level at the northwestern end of the mountain range. [4]

        Though there is no documentary evidence to support it, Carmelite tradition suggests that a community of Jewish hermits had lived at the site from the time of Elijah until the Carmelites were founded there prefixed to the Carmelite Constitution of 1281 was the claim that from the time when Elijah and Elisha had dwelt devoutly on Mount Carmel, priests and prophets, Jewish and Christian, had lived "praiseworthy lives in holy penitence" adjacent to the site of the "fountain of Elisha" [ dubious – discuss ] in an uninterrupted succession. [ dubious – discuss ] [ citation needed ]

        A Carmelite monastery was founded at the site shortly after the Order itself was created, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of "Star of the Sea" ("stella maris" in Latin), a common medieval presentation of her. [4]

        The Carmelite Order grew to be one of the major Catholic religious orders worldwide, although the monastery at Carmel has had a less successful history. During the Crusades the monastery often changed hands, frequently being converted into a mosque. [5] In 1799 the building was finally converted into a hospital, by Napoleon, but in 1821 the surviving structure was destroyed by the pasha of Damascus. [5] A new monastery was later constructed directly over a nearby cave, after funds were collected by the Carmelite Order for restoration of the monastery. [5] The cave, which now forms the crypt of the monastic church, is termed "Elijah's grotto" by the Discalced Carmelite friars who have custody of the monastery. [5]

        Under Islamic control the location at the highest peak of the Carmel came to be known as "El-Maharrakah" or "El-Muhraqa", meaning "place of burning", in reference to the account of Elijah's challenge to the priests of Hadad. [5] This, perhaps not coincidentally, is also the highest natural point of the mountain range. [ citation needed ]

        The Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

        One of the oldest scapulars is associated with Mount Carmel and the Carmelites. According to Carmelite tradition, the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was first given to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite, by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Carmelites refer to her under the title "Our Lady of Mount Carmel," and celebrate 16 July as her feast day. [ citation needed ]

        Baháʼí Faith Edit

        Mount Carmel is considered a sacred place for followers of the Baháʼí Faith, and is the location of the Baháʼí World Centre and the Shrine of the Báb. The location of the Baháʼí holy places has its roots in the imprisonment of the religion's founder, Bahá'u'lláh, near Haifa by the Ottoman Empire during the Ottoman Empire's rule over Palestine.

        The Shrine of the Báb is a structure where the remains of the Báb, the founder of Bábism and forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh in the Baháʼí Faith, have been laid to rest. The shrine's precise location on Mount Carmel was designated by Bahá'u'lláh himself and the Báb's remains were laid to rest on March 21, 1909 in a six-room mausoleum made of local stone. The construction of the shrine with a golden dome was completed over the mausoleum in 1953, [28] and a series of decorative terraces around the shrine were completed in 2001. The white marbles used were from the same ancient source that most Athenian masterpieces were using, the Penteliko Mountain.

        Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, writing in the Tablet of Carmel, designated the area around the shrine as the location for the administrative headquarters of the religion the Baháʼí administrative buildings were constructed adjacent to the decorative terraces, and are referred to as the Arc, on account of their physical arrangement.

        Ahmadiyya Muslims Edit

        The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has its largest Israeli mosque on Mount Carmel, in the Kababir quarter of Haifa, known as the Mahmood Mosque. It is a unique structure with two minarets. [29] The mosque was once visited by the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, for an iftar dinner. [30]

        Watch the video: Battle of Annaberg - Germany and Poland Fight Over Silesia I THE GREAT WAR 1921 (May 2022).