Obama's Archaeological Tour

First Senator Obama visited Marcus Aurelius' temple of Hercules in Amman, Jordan. (Just picture the Secret Service guys as the Praetorian Guard.)

More on the temple can be found here, including a better photo of two columns with Corinthian capitals still holding up a block of the entablature. It was erected between AD 162 and 166, and was meant to be hexastyle (model here), though may never have been finished.

Obama at Temple of Hercules, McCain team slams media 'love affair' - AFP

Then we went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Israel.

Also known as the Western Wall, this is all that really remains of the Second Temple built by Herod the Great. The Second Temple was built and dedicated in 515 BC; by the first century BC it needed extensive renovations for structural and liturgical reasons (lots of desecrations by various Hellenistic rulers). Herod's work began in 19 BC, but the complex he created was burnt down and deliberately destroyed by Titus' army in AD 70. Although in physical terms this was the third temple on the site, because sacrifices continued through the construction and reconstruction process, it is therefore considered to be a continuation of the Second Temple without liturgical interruption - but scholars tend to refer to it as Herod's Temple to differentiate the two.

Obama heckled as he makes a surprise visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall - Daily Mail

[As an ethnic Jew, and an historian, I kinda like the idea of an united Jerusalem as the capital. Sorry.]

The Telegraph has picked up on the Classical theme of Obama's tour, and published this cartoon today. Having been a little surprised by the recent change in tone of the campaign, and some seeming contradictions in policy statements ... the reminder of mortality whispered into the ears of Triumphing generals seems particularly apposite.

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