From Arutz-7:

Israel is planning a major archaeological dig under the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza, opposite the Temple Mount, officials announced Thursday. The excavations will create an archaeological park directly underneath the area where worshippers currently stand while praying at the Kotel.
The current prayer area will remain open, supported by pillars, while a new area will be added underneath, at the level at which worshippers at the ancient Temple stood in the past.

Don’t expect the Arab leaders to miss this opportunity.

The dig may be met with harsh reactions from Muslim and Arab leaders in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, many of whom have accused Israel of attempting to damage the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem-area Muslims recently rioted for several days after it was rumored that “Jewish settlers” had planned to pray on the Temple Mount.

You can see an artist’s sketch of what the area will look like here.  The full article is here.

The present plaza level was lowered in the 1960s, as I noted with this interesting photo comparison.


The Bible and Interpretation has published a number of provocative essays since its return earlier this year.  A recent one that relates to a matter occasionally noted on this blog is Eric Cline’s “The Distortion of Archaeology and What We Can Do About It: A Brief Note on Progress Made and Yet To Be Made.”  The essay is adapted from a forthcoming book and thus may feel a bit long for internet reading, but you can profitably skim it, slowing down for the sections of greater interest.  After an opening illustration, the article begins:

We find similar situations every year in archaeology, for the junk science which is practiced by many pseudo-archaeologists and amateur enthusiasts (against which I have railed elsewhere) not only cannot withstand serious scrutiny, but in many cases the “results” themselves are not really results in the first place. However, when gratuitous claims of amazing finds, especially concerning Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, and Sodom and Gomorrah, are first made, they are featured prominently in the media, but subsequent rebuttals are given little or no attention.
We have to face the reality of the situation, which is that the media are going to keep reporting such stories because they sell newspapers and get people to watch TV or click on Internet links. While they are not nearly as interested in later negative responses, reporters almost always seek immediate reactions which can be used in the original story. So, we have to decide what we are going to do about this and how to turn it to our advantage. (emphasis mine)

You can read it all here.


From the Jerusalem Post:

Despite recent accusations to the contrary, the chief site engineer for the Western Wall tunnels declared on Thursday that Israeli archeological excavations were not being done under the Temple Mount, were in no way detrimental to the structural stability of the mount or its surroundings, and were actually improving such stability "tenfold." "There’s been a lot of talk about instability [based on ongoing archeological excavations in the area], and let me reassure you, we have improved the structural stability here tenfold over the last few years and have actually strengthened areas where there was danger of further collapse," the chief engineer, Ofer Cohen, said during a Government Press Office-sponsored tour of the tunnels on Thursday afternoon. Standing in a section of the tunnels known as the "Hall of Ages" – so named because the archeological and subsequent reinforcement work there spans from the First Temple period until today – Cohen and the tour’s participants were dwarfed by a series of huge steel beams that had been set up to prevent the walls from caving in. "To those who say that our work here is causing structural instability, the exact opposite is true," Cohen asserted.

The rest of the story is here.