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The Tomb of Absalom

The so-called Tomb of Absalom in Jerusalem is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites from the late Roman period. It is also one of the most enigmatic. The tomb, which is basically a square structure carved out of the rock, decorated with bas-relief Ionic columns and surmounted by a distinctive conical roof, marks the municipal boundary between the Valley of Jehoshaphat and the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. Its original construction has been dated to the 1st century AD. although it has since undergone alterations and has also been damaged.

It was therefore built around 1000 years after the death of the person to whom it is traditionally dedicated, namely Absalom, King David’s rebel son. We cannot know for sure why or who commissioned this structure, but at some point in antiquity it became associated with the legendary 'Pillar of Absalom' mentioned in the Old Testament. Two sources from the 1st century AD mention the existence of a monument like this in Jerusalem. The first is the "Copper Scroll" (one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated to AD 68); the other is Flavius Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (93 or 94 AD). These testimonies probably influenced the present structure's association with Absalom, although a Greek inscription (one of three adorning the entrance), dated to about the 4th century AD proclaims that it is the "Tomb of Zacharias, the pious martyr and father of John".

It was precisely these historical stratifications that guided the lighting design developed by Eran Klein who wanted to create layers of light to mark the different eras.
To add texture and highlight the marks of history that Klein sees as scars, the lighting designer requested grazing wall lighting that would create shadows thanks to Linealuce luminaires fitted with wall grazing optics.

The challenge was therefore to balance the shadows and "cut" the light for each period, which was achieved using the Palco Framer.
The end result is a monument that shines, stands out and can be seen in the landscape of the valley from many different viewpoints.

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  • Year
  • Client
    City of Jerusalem
  • Lighting project:
    Light spirit by Eran Klein
  • Photographer
    Perry Easy Photography

Project Quote

" The first time I saw the tomb it seemed to me like it was caved out of the mountain, standing tall and proud, very different to its surroundings. A stone jewel that draws you closer. After I did some research, I found out the tomb was built over several periods of time. I wanted to recreate layers to express the different eras and to emphasize my first gut feeling by using shadow behind the structure"

Eran Klein, Light Spirit

Products Used: