Simple Massing - The Second Temple
As stated before, the emphasis of the real-time simulation model was always the areas immediately adjacent to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavations around the southwestern corner of the platform. Thus, an ongoing question during the model construction process was whether or not to include sections of the complex in the absence of reliable excavation data or the presence of conflicting information.
In the case of the Herodian Temple, the wealth of conflicting reconstructions are based solely on historic written descriptions. None of the artifacts recovered from the IAA can be definitively linked to the structure or its reconstruction, yet its importance to the understanding of the Temple Mount complex dictated that it be represented in some form. The decision was made to construct a very simple computer model, based on Michael Avi-Yonah's physical reconstruction at the Holyland Hotel.
The amount of geometry in the computer model of the Temple compared to the geometry of the Royal Stoa illustrates the difference between a simple massing model and a complex detailed model. The Temple file contains 6,437 total triangles, a figure that includes the Temple, its platform and stairs, and the balustrade that surrounds the structure. The Royal Stoa model, on the other hand, contains 135,037 triangles. The bulk of that total comes from the 162 fully three-dimensional columns that define the space, each containing 828 triangles at their highest level of detail. (The term 'levels of detail' describes nested sets of models that represent the same structure in increasing amounts of complexity. Levels of detail are discussed at length in the text below).
Similarly, Antonia Fortress and Wilson's Gate are only represented in the model as simple massing, designed to give visitors to the Ethan and Marla Davidson Center an understanding of the relationship of the Temple Mount complex's component parts. These areas could be easily updated with data from future excavations.