The Temple Man An Interview With Leen Ritmeyer -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 10:1 (Winter 1997)
Article: The Temple Man An Interview With Leen Ritmeyer
Author: Gary A. Byers


The Temple Man
An Interview With Leen Ritmeyer

Gary A. Byers

He is probably the world’s foremost authority on the ancient Temple of Herod in Jerusalem, his art work is known by scholars and lay people worldwide, his services are coveted by every dig director in Israel and he spent September at the Associates for Biblical Research dig at Khirbet al-Makater. He is Dr. Leen Ritmeyer. Leen (pronounced “Lane”) and his son Nathaniel (“Nat”) joined the ABR excavation under the direction of Dr. Bryant Wood. Fifteen-year-old Nat dug while his dad drew plans of our structures. Already an accomplished digger, Nat has previously dug at Ramat HaNadiv on Mount Carmel, Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem and Nessana in the Negev. Born in Jerusalem, the trip was like coming home for Nat, and he took the opportunity to visit a good friend in Jerusalem.

Dr. Wood began corresponding with Leen about using some of his artwork in one of our publications. As a result of this contact, Dr. Wood invited him to come and draw the gate complex/monumental structure we are uncovering at Kh. al-Makater. Dr. Ritmeyer’s ability to see the big picture

Dr. Leen Ritmeyer drawing the plan of the gate complex at Kh. al-Makater, September 1996.

from square-to-square and field-to-field is amazing. Even before he had drawn any plans, his help on site was invaluable. Then he demonstrated just how handy he was with a pencil, a tape measure and an architect’s scale.

Leen, who is originally from Holland, went to Israel in 1969. With a MA degree in physical education, he went to work as a volunteer on kibbutz Yad Mordechai (named after one of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters from World War II). Then in 1973, Leen signed on as a digger for Professor Benjamin Mazar’s Temple Mount excavation. The dig needed a surveyor and Leen was tapped for the job, although he had no previous experience. This was obviously a wise career move!

As the dig’s surveyor, Leen went from one area of the Temple Mount excavation to another. He got into places where no one but Professor Mazar went. One day, after measuring everything and waiting for the architects to draw them, Leen tried his own hand at architectural drawing. Another very good idea.

It was on the Temple Mount excavation, in 1975, that Leen says he made his best archaeological discovery. “I found my wife on Mount Zion,” he said. Kathleen, originally from Ireland, had a degree in archaeology from University College in Dublin, Ireland. She had come to Israel to work on the Temple Mount excavations. This, too, was a good decision, and they wer...

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