Home

Jerusalem Day and the Six-Day War

No Comments

 “The Temple Mount is in our Hands!”

Machine gun magazines, bullets, Jordanian coins, and uniform badges were found in sifting the soil from the Temple Mount. The artifacts tell the story of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War.

Broadcasted on the army radio network, nothing is more symbolic of the unification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War than the immortal words of Colonel Mordechai “Motta” Gur, commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, as they conquered the Old City, “The Temple Mount is in our hands.”

IMG_3560We at the Temple Mount Sifting Project have this revelation daily as we work with soil and artifacts from the Temple Mount found by our project. The Temple Mount is literally in our hands.

As you know, our project is special in part because of the wide range of history it can help explain. Just as we have tangible artifacts from the Temple Mount’s ancient history, from the time of the First Temple’s destruction by the Babylonians, the Hasmonean wars, the Great Jewish Revolt which led to the destruction of the Second Temple, and the Crusader-Muslim battles, we have direct evidence of the Jordanian presence on the Temple Mount, and for the Six-Day War battles 50 years ago.

Yesterday, on Jerusalem Day celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, we had a booth in the Old City and displayed some of our special artifacts including our Opus Sectile floors, arrowheads, and artifacts from the Six-Day War. We had hundreds of people stop and learn about these artifacts as well as donate to our campaign to raise the funding necessary to continue our research. If you would like to support our research, please visit www.half-shekel.org or contact development@tmsifting.org for more information.

Some major news media covered the following artifacts in articles published yesterday. Here is a great one from The Times of Israel. It was also covered by The Jewish Press and on many Hebrew news sites.

Six-Day War – an Incredible Story

Among the artifacts that we have recovered from the Temple Mount are tens of items which may be related to the IDF’s arrival at the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War. Although these are not ancient archaeological artifacts, they have great historic significance and they can teach us about our recent history. It is usually thought that no battle occurred on the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War. The ammunition that we have found caused us to raised doubts regarding this premise and “dig” deeper into the details of the battle of Jerusalem during that time.

The IDF forces entered the Old City and the Temple Mount through the Lion’s Gate on Wednesday, June 7th 1967. The Jordanian forces had fled the city early in the morning, but some resistance pockets and sniper positions remained on the Temple Mount and the Old City. The previous day, the Jordanian military was positioned on the Eastern city wall, of which the Temple Mount’s Eastern wall is a significant part. On the night of June 6th, a special commando unit and some tanks were ordered to capture the Mount of Olives. They mistakenly lost their way, and instead of reaching the road towards the Augusta Victoria building, they reached the Kidron Bridge to the Gethsemane Church. The bridge’s location left them completely open to massive fire from the Jordanian positions on the wall above, killing 5 soldiers. During the rescue attempts, the IDF soldiers on the bridge fired back at the Jordanian positions. The story of this engagement is described well by Moshe Natan in his book, “The War for Jerusalem.”

In order to better understand our artifacts, we spoke with Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun who was a part of the paratroopers force that entered the city through the Lion’s Gate. He said, “Following the Kidron Bridge battle, the commander of the Jordanian battalion in the Old City asked permission to evacuate the Old City since he realized that the IDF was encircling it. The Egyptian General of the Eastern front did not understand the symbolic significance of the Old City and the Holy Sites [for Jordan] and allowed the retreat. The Jordanians fled the city [on June 7th] early in the morning. The IDF did not know that, and at 7am bombarded the city walls with artillery fire in order to make the Jordanian soldiers withdraw from the walls. One artillery shell that missed the target killed three of our soldiers […] From the minaret near the Gate of the Tribes, a Jordanian soldier shot at us, but we managed to take him down before he could hit one of our men. As we entered the gate into the Temple Mount, paratroopers shot bursts of fire into the air to intimidate [the Jordanians], but Motta Gur (the commander of the brigade) immediately gave his famous order, “Cease Fire! All forces cease fire! A holy place, do not shoot. The Temple Mount is in our hands.””

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also recovered a 25 round magazine of an Israeli made Uzi sub-machine gun, which served as the personal weapon of every IDF commander. There are also several 9 mm bullets – the Uzi’s ammunition. A number of 9 mm bullet casings were found as well. One casing, which was produced abroad, has a manufacture date of 1956. Another 9 mm casing was manufactured in 1952 and has the Hebrew letters “MIT,” which is an acronym for the State of Israel, Military Industry. These bullets and casings attest to the fact that during the Six-Day War antiquated ammunition was used. In addition, a 7.62 mm blank cartridge with a headstamp date of 1957 was found. This round was probably used for firing an anti-tank grenade from a Belgian made Fal or “FN” rifle which was commonly in service of the IDF during this period. Among the ammunition that was found were two 50-caliber projectiles probably fired from a Browning heavy machine gun. The bullet tips are warped indicating that they hit a hard surface. It is likely that these bullets originated in the return fire of the IDF soldiers pinned down on the Kidron Bridge shooting at the Jordanians positioned on the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount.

Yaakov Goldfine, a soldier who was a sniper in the Jerusalem Brigade and entered the city from the Dung Gate, gave us a further explanation about the weapons used during the war. “We were using an English Enfield rifle which we upgraded to be used as a sniper rifle. For backup, we had the Belgian FN which was used by the infantry soldiers. […] I entered the gate and ascended the Temple Mount. It was easy to see how the Jordanians used the Temple Mount as a military fortification. In spite of that, our orders were not to shoot at the Old City with heavy weaponry or bomb it from the air. The neutralization of the Jordanian positions was done by the infantry forces, and it cost us losses.”

Among the coins discovered by the Temple Mount Sifting Project are four corrugated aluminum Agora coins. These are Israeli coins minted in 1967 and 1968 and which must have fallen out of the pockets of IDF soldiers or the first Israeli visitors who arrived at the Temple Mount following the Six-Day War.

Pic06- jordanian coins

Furthermore, the sifting yielded nearly forty Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom coins. Almost all the coins were minted prior to the Six-Day War, when the area was under Jordanian control from 1948-1967.

Though Israel is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, and Gur’s famous statement is being remembered and widely shared, the Temple Mount itself has a more complex reality. The first Jordanian coin from the sifting was discovered on June 6, 2005, the 38th anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification. This coin was minted in 1991, and probably arrived at the Temple Mount in the pocket of a Muslim worshipper or a Waqf employee who worked on the Temple Mount. The Jordanian Dinar (and its denomination –piasters) has remained a legal currency in the West Bank, continuing from 1967 until today.

Two small metal badges depicting a Jordanian flag were also discovered in the sifting and may have been pinned to Jordanian army uniforms. The post-war Jordanian artifacts reflect the complex political situation on the Temple Mount. Officially, the State of Israel holds sovereignty over the area, but the state has de facto given some authority to the Jordanian Kingdom via the Islamic Waqf.

It is amazing how our artifacts really express these complex situations and these moments in time. It is research like this that makes me truly love archaeology and the different ways that it can be used to understand our past. This research falls into a somewhat new category of archaeology known as “Modern Conflict Archaeology” which takes an interdisciplinary approach to try and understand the artifacts created during modern conflict. (Definitely check out the above website, because it is a truly fascinating new approach to archaeology.)

To support more research like this, go to www.half-shekel.org or contact development@tmsifting.org for more information.

In Response to the Prime Minister

No Comments

Press Release: A solution has still not been found for resuming the sifting of the Temple Mount soil

Representatives from the Prime Minister’s office have contacted us, the directors of the Temple Mount Sifting Project in order to assess the issue of the Temple Mount soil and consider ways to support the research and resumption of the sifting.

We value the Prime Minister’s efforts to resolve the issue, and thank the Ir-David foundation for their long collaboration with our project. However, the scientific research is separate from the touristic activity which was, until recently, run by the Ir-David Foundation. The sifting and research are licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and directed by Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira under the auspices Bar-Ilan’s University’s Institute of Archaeology. The research is funded by the “Israel Archaeology Foundation” which promotes archaeological research. Funding the research of the Temple Mount finds must by managed by an organization whose primary impetus is scientific rather than focused primarily on tourism.

The overlap between the touristic activity and the scientific-archaeological research caused ruptures between the Temple Mount Sifting Project directors and the Ir-David foundation, leading the Ir-David Foundation to halt the funding for the sifting activity two weeks ago. Consequently, we concluded that it is best not to renew the sifting before securing the full funding for the research of the artifacts already found by the project.

Since 2010 we have worked hard at fundraising for the research of the finds. In October 2016, we were pleased to hear of the Prime Minister’s wish to support the project, and we met with him four months ago. Since the promised support has not been received or further discussed, our depleting funds forced us to launch our current crowdfunding campaign which we hope will achieve its goal of funding the research of this important material in 2017 while we continue to apply for grants and search for donors who can fully fund our project until the complete publication of our research.

We have not yet received any commitment from the Prime Minister’s Office or any other governmental entity regarding any kind of funding for our scientific research, though another future meeting is now being arranged. We are glad to discuss funding solutions which would enable us to continue the research as well as resume sifting the soil in the Emek Zurim National Park or anywhere else.

“We thank the Prime Minister for bringing this important topic into his agenda.”

Just a Reminder:

If you want to help, consider donating to our campaign HERE.

Is this the End of the Sifting Project?

No Comments

To all of our friends and supporters,

We have an important announcement to make. We want to make our official announcement that the sifting of material from the Temple Mount has stopped. This is due to a number of different reasons including lack of funding and differences between the directors of the Sifting Project and the Ir David Foundation that has, until now, funded the operation of the Sifting Site at Emek Tzurim. We will not resume the sifting until the publication of research on the finds that we have already recovered has been fully funded and completed.
natanWe apologize to all those planning to come and sift with us. Ir David will continue to sift archaeological material at Emek Tzurim through the Antiquities Authority, but it will not be related to our project in any way. We will miss all of you, and hope that you will join with us when we are able to restart the sifting in the future.To date, we have sifted through about 70% of the material taken out of the Temple Mount in 1999. As you know, this is the first archaeological material ever to be researched from within the Temple Mount itself. We have recovered innumerable artifacts and have brought about huge discoveries through our research. Yet more research is needed on many objects. Completing the research on these objects may cause us to change our methodology or approaches to the material, and we want to ensure that there is unsifted material on which to use a new methodology if needed. Though unexpected, the stopping of our sifting could be a good thing for our project’s methodology in the long run.

Project directors meet with Prime Minister, Netanyahu

All of this change in our organization also forces us to face the realities of the funding deficit of our research. We have spent a good portion of the last 6 months trying to gain concrete promises of government support for our project, but nothing yet has been announced despite vague promises from the Prime Minister himself. We are now launching a crowdfunding campaign aimed at our Israeli supporters in the hope that this will help us last the year. You are also invited to help with this campaign.

We are sorry for sending this disturbing message, especially before the holidays, but we believe, and want you to believe, that everything that happens is for the best. The Sifting Project is now entering a new era and the future may conceal some new surprises.

With so much gratitude for your support through the years,

Dr. Gaby Barkay, Zachi Dvira, and the staff of the Temple Mount Sifting Project

Amazing News from the TMSP!

No Comments

Dear Friends,

We are overwhelmed by the positive response to our Annual Appeal and we want to say “Thank You.” We will still be able to receive donations on our site at half-shekel.org. You can always donate for the cool gifts, in honor of a friend, or just because you have too much change burning a hole in your pocket, but this marks the end of the emails. Everyone rejoice!

staff-join-usSo here’s the breakdown. We had 67 donors give us over $18,000. Over 45 of those were people who had never before given to the project and were newly joining our TMSP family.

Our goal was to raise enough funds to cover the costs of the core research needed to keep our publication on track for 2018. We raised 36% of that goal which is a great way to start the new year.

Because of the Annual Appeal, we can now cover the costs of:

52 weeks of pottery analysis,

the analysis of 100 ancient coins,

30 weeks of drawing of special finds,

                           AND

30 weeks of the analysis of stone vessels and tools!

We cannot express what this means to us. As the world media increases their focus on Israel, Jerusalem, and Temple Denial, your support of our research lets us know that you stand with us. Just during the campaign, claims of Temple Denial went viral and Dr. Barkay was almost evicted from the Temple Mount for using the term “Temple Mount.” Yet equally, we received scores of emails and messages from people showing their support for our project and telling us that we should be proud of our accomplishments.

We sincerely thank all of you who have supported us over the years and who have given to support our research in this year’s Annual Appeal. We are more dedicated than ever to publishing our research on the archaeological history of the Temple Mount and sharing those truths with the scientific community and the public. Thank you for being part of our TMSP family and helping us reach our goals.

May 2017 bring the true history of the Temple Mount to light.

Thank you,

The Staff of the Temple Mount Sifting Project

Crowdfunding Announcement

No Comments

Announcement: For the rest of our Annual Appeal (ending February 1st), everyone who qualifies for a silver-coated replica of our half-shekel coin will be AUTOMATICALLY upgraded to a full silver replica. Those who qualify for our full-silver replica will be a part of our Circle of Friends and receive their coin in a special display box. Make sure to get yours now at half-shekel.org.