Dr. James Tabor gives an illustrated report of the first three weeks of the current excavation on Mount Zion. Here is an extract:
The results have been simply astounding, the finds quite spectacular, and the whole area has been transformed….
Our major goals this season have been to remove much of the garden fill and rubble that has accumulated over the past decades so as to get down to the archaeological layers that lie below, with particular emphasis on the 2nd Temple period levels that are preserved to an extraordinary height of 10-12 meters….
We will, of course, publish full reports on our Web site later this year but in terms of an overview here are some of our more spectacular finds so far:
1. A stone vessel with an ancient inscription of ten lines written in an archaic Jewish script…. We have found a dozen or more on our site over the past three years. However, to have ten lines of text is unprecedented.
2. Murex snail shells with holes drilled through them….
3. A fire pit that can be precisely dated to just after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE and the rebuilding of the city by Hadrian following the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 CE….
4. The threshold of a magnificent Fatimid period double gate….
5. An arched doorway with mosaic floor and plastered wall….
6. Exposure of several well preserved 2nd Temple period vaulted chambers likely containing mikvot (ritual baths) and storage areas….
The report concludes with an urgent appeal for funds:
Funding has been extraordinarily tight this season with North Carolina state funds frozen entirely and many donors feeling the pinch of the recession. In order to complete our season, plus a minimum of conservation and post-excavation work, we have inaugurated a Web fund drive (http://digmountzion.com/information/Donations.html) to raise $50,000 by July 15th and we are about 1/3 there. Gifts have ranged from $25 to $3000, with the average around $100. I hope you will join this fund drive and pass on the word to others. I think by pulling together a few hundred of us can easily meet our goal.
HT: Jim West via Joe Lauer