Alec Garrard

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Brick by brick, tiny figure by tiny figure, Alec Garrard has painstakingly worked for 30 years on an astonishing recreation of Herod's Temple.

But despite spending all that time and effort the retired farmer believes he won't finish it in his lifetime as he keeps finding things to add to it.

In contrast, legend has it that the original construction of the entire complex lasted only three years, although historians believe it took far longer.

It was his fascination for religion and buildings which first started Alec on the Biblical project which now measures 20ft by 12ft and is housed in a seperate building in his garden.

His version is so impressive that some of the world's top archaeologists and experts from the British Museum have come to view it.

Alec Garrard standing next to the model on which he has dedicated the past 30 years of his life. Measuring 20ft by 12ft it is housed in a seperate building in his garden

'It's now recognised as the most authentic version of the temple in the world,' he said. 'I've had a lot of offers from people to buy it, but it's not for sale.'

And while he sees it as a form of relaxation, he says his wife thinks he is mad.

'She wishes she'd married a normal person,' he said.

The original temple was built in 19BC by King Herod the Great but was flattened in AD70 by Roman troops under Emperor Titus during the Siege of Jerusalem, just six years after completion.

In its heyday the complex covered 36 acres - four times the area of Windsor Castle.

Today, all that remains of the temple is the Western Wall or so-called Wailing Wall. The temple itself was located on the site of the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the temple had just been rebuilt and it was in an area known as Solomon's Porch that he argued with rabbis, amazing them with his questions and answers.

Herod, keen to perpetuate his name through building projects, ensured that the temple dominated the Jerusalem landscape, effectively becoming its focal point.

A peek into the 1:100 scale model, here showing the Court of Prayer, enables one to see the extraordinary attention to detail where Alec has hand-baked and painted every clay brick and tile

Enlarge   herods temple

This artist's impression of Herod's Temple was made for a series of Bible illustrations in 1886 by James Tissot

Christ Drives The Usurers Out Of The Temple is a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder and was created in the 15th century

The ambitious project involved an estimated 10,000 workers more than doubling the size of the pre-existing site. This was done by cutting away rock, constructing walls and then filling the areas with earth and rubble.

Two years ago an archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a quarry which may have provided Herod with the stones to build the temple.

Coins and pottery tied the date to 19BC while large outlines of the stone cuts was seen as evidence of a massive public project worked by hundreds of slaves.

For his part, Mr Garrard, 78, has dedicated 33,000 hours to constructing his model and has hand-baked and painted every clay brick and tile and even sculpted 4,000 tiny human figures to populate the courtyards.

Historical experts believe the model, which has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the globe, is the best representation in the world of what the Jewish temple actually looked like.

This image shows the Royal Porch of the temple. Mr Garrard's model has attracted visitors from all over the world, including top archeologists

'I have been working on it for decades but it will never be finished as I'm always finding something new to add,' he said.

'I've always loved making models and as I was getting older I started to think about making one big project which would see me through to the end of my life.

Mr Garrard said he had seen one or two models of the temple and thought he could do better so began building one himself.

'I have an interest in buildings and religion so I thought maybe I could combine the two and I came up with the idea of doing the temple,' he said.

The original temple featured the Court of the Priests, where the animals were prepared for sacrifice, the Golden Vine at the entrance to the Temple and the Eastern Gate.

Since the day the temple was destroyed scholars have argued over the detail of its construction.

Mr Garrard has sculpted 4,000 half-inch figures to populate the courtyards. Each one takes three hours to make

Mr Garrard, from Norfolk, spent more than three years researching the temple, which was destroyed by the Romans 2,000 years ago and deemed to be one of the most remarkable buildings of ancient times.

He then started to construct the amazing 1:100 scale model.

'Everything is made by hand. I cut plywood frames for the walls and buildings and all the clay bricks and tiles were baked in the oven then stuck together,' he said.

As well as having religious services, the temple had a bazaar, people selling souvenirs, as well as currency changers, exchanging Roman for Jewish money, as mentioned in the New Testament account of Jesus and the money changers.

'I have also sculpted and painted 4,000 figures, measuring just half an inch and all wearing their correct costumes.

'Each one takes about three hours to make and there are 32 versions of Jesus, although no one can ever spot him no matter how religious they are.'

Mr Garrard still spends hours working on the model every day.

'I look upon it as a work of art, there is lots of detail and I want it to look as real as possible,' he said.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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