Temple Mount "Excavation" Update

Leen Ritmeyer has posted his thoughts on exactly what wall has been uncovered in the illegal excavations.  Most scholars of his caliber wouldn’t take the time to explain things so clearly for us mere mortals.  Thank you, Leen.  Read it here. Arutz-7 gives the take of another archaeologist on what has been revealed:

Gideon Charlap, a top Jerusalem architect and Temple Mount expert, told Arutz-7 what he saw when he visited the Temple Mount on Tuesday: “The Arabs there are digging a deep north-to-south trench, up to a meter [1.1 yards] deep.  It is being dug in the area that served during Holy Temple times as the Ezrat Nashim [the area known as the Women’s Courtyard, though it was not reserved only for women -ed.].  The trench passes through three east-to-west walls, according to my calculations – walls that probably served as separations for the Temple’s offices and the like.  This means that the destruction is tremendous…”

The award for the Joke of the Day goes to Mufti Mohammed Hussein, the top Muslim cleric in Jerusalem.  “We don’t harm the antiquities, we are the ones who are taking care of the antiquities, unlike others who destroy them,” he said. Jerusalem archaeologist Eilat Mazar:

“No other country in the world would allow such grave damage to its most precious archaeological treasures,” Mazar said

I wonder if there are any parallels to this situation.  What other country would not be screaming bloody murder at such a situation? Dr. Eilat Mazar:

Anyone can realize that remnants of both the First and Second Temples are there, and can guess what damage is being done by the tractor.  The most precious findings are just rolling around there and are available to be found – and instead they have a tractor there!  If I would try to work with a tractor at one of my digs, the Antiquities Authority would stop me immediately!  With a tractor, it’s impossible to make any type of careful examination of the earth and pieces being dug up.

Imagine if Ben-Tor brought a tractor to speed things up at Hazor, or if Maeir used one at Gath.  Can you not imagine that the IAA would shut the dig down in seconds?  But not here, at the most important archaeological site in the country.  And why not?  Politics.  It’s much easier to sacrifice thousands of years of history for the sake of a few minutes of peace. This would all be so much simpler if we took the viewpoint of Palestinian worshipper Ismael Ramadan.

“I grew up and I see [with] my eyes and I see this is [a] mosque. I don’t see [a] temple,” he said. Like many Palestinians, he believes the temples never existed. “It’s not true,” he said.  “No Temple.”

Gabriel Barkay has been sifting debris from the last major illegal excavation on the Temple Mount, and some of the discoveries were announced yesterday at the eighth annual City of David archaeological conference.

The project, now in its third year, entails scrutinizing truckloads of earth removed by the Waqf in 1999. Among the ancient finds were numerous stone tiles intended for flooring, some of which have been identified as designed for use in the Roman-era mosaic work known as opus sectile, in which colorful tiles were cut into shapes and fitted into geometric patterns. “The discovery of stone tiles used in opus sectile flooring in [earth from] the Temple Mount is one of the most important discoveries of the dirt-sifting work,” Barkai said, “and it might aid in reconstructing the appearance and character of the Temple’s outer courtyard.”


5 thoughts on “Temple Mount "Excavation" Update

  1. Thank you for the nice post. I enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for the
    time and effort you spend for keeping blog lively and attractive and that
    makes it worth visiting and re-visiting.

  2. I appreciate your keeping up on these things. Ever since I went on a trip to Israel, my understanding and interests have increased tremendously (I am eager to go on many more trips).

    Is there nothing that can influence the government to step in and intervene in this attempted erasing of history?

    This reminds me of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran saying the holocaust never existed.

    Fortunately rewriting history does not change the truth, but it does increase the lie.

    Thanks for all your work. Love your pictures too!

  3. Sjue and Matt – thanks for the kind words. Matt, I think that the government is certainly subject to pressure, and if enough people screamed, they would change their words. That’s mostly how the government in Israel works; change is effected by who screams the most and the loudest. Which is one reason why there are so many strikes of government workers; they have figured out what works.

  4. Great site! Wonderful content! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in this way. I have much more to read, say and ask… in time!

    For now, I’m intrigued by this excavation situation. Of course, I had no idea it was going on, despite the fact I’m commenting on a post that’s a year old! But my brain can’t resist a suggestion.

    Please pardon my ignorance, wherever I’m about to display it.

    Since it seems Israel can’t stop what’s going on, have they instead tried to assist it? What I mean is, at least get them some competent help for causing less destruction than using a tractor. (Unless destruction is the real goal? To wipe out Jewish history? I’ll assume not for now.)

    Specifically, then: Has anyone in Israel tried to find some interested Muslim Archaeologists in Europe? If such scholars could be encouraged to contact the excavators independently, it would at least be interesting to see the response of those who are currently digging.

    And who knows? If, to whatever degree, the excavators have genuinely academic ambitions, they might benefit from contact with muslim scholars in many, many ways.

    History does show that education can eventually chip away at superstition and dogma.

    Any chance that could help?

    Or has it been tried?

  5. Bill – the Muslims in charge of the Temple Mount have no interest in cooperating with Israelis, and they have no interest in making ancient discoveries. They want to make repairs to existing infrastructure, nothing more.

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