Historical and Archaelogical Importance
Once Israel had settled in the Holy Land, King Solomon ordered the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies was situated on the western side of the Temple. This Temple, commonly called "Solomon's Temple", was destroyed when the Babylonians invaded Israel.
After the Babylonian Captivity of the Israelites a new Temple was built. This is commonly called the "Second Temple". However, the Holy of Holies no longer contained the Ark of the Covenant as it had been lost after the first Temple's destruction. Instead a portion of the floor was raised to represent where the Ark once stood.
This Temple was destroyed in the 1st century CE by the Romans.
The Holy of Holies is still considered to be the most holy and sacred location on earth by Jews and even some Christians (such as in the Ethiopian Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches) despite its true location been unknown. Yet, it is supposed that the Holy of Holies was once situated on Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is now.
All that remains of the Temple is the Western Wall, or 'Wailing Wall', which is still a centre of Jewish pilgrimage and prayer.
In recent decades there has been an interest in the items once contained in the Holy of Holies, such as the Ark of the Covenant. Despite the Ark being 'lost' since the fall of Solomon's Temple it has been an area of fixation for historians and the entertainment industry. Some have suggested that the location of the Ark is somewhere in Africa or even burried on Mount Nebo (due to the purported evidence in 2 Maccabees 2:4-10). Films have capitalised on this missing historical object by creating films, such as 'Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark'.
Despite many claims, most scholars would state that the Ark remains unfound.
There are many reasons why the Jewish Temple has not been rebuilt. Today the limited security and safety in the Holy Land means that it is not possible for such a construction to occur. It is also important to remember that the altar where the sacrifices were to be performed had to be built in a specific location in accordance with God's command. However, it is not possible to discover where this altar once existed and thus without the altar the main function of the Temple cannot take place - i.e. sacrifices.