More Archaeological Destruction on the Temple Mount

Dumped Temple Mount soil


Last Sunday Waqf officials used a tractor to dig an 80m long ditch on the  Temple Mount platform, in order to install new electricity lines. The trench depth varies from 50 – 100 cm deep. During the excavation, grey earth, which indicates archaeological significance was removed from the dig,. In addition, signs of ancient architecture were exposed beneath the current platform slabs!! It should be mentioned that the bedrock level at this location is very close to the current platform.  

  The earth from this dig was dumped upon the piles of debris  stored on the eastern side of the Temple Mount. In the future, we may also have the opportunity to sift these piles, but, in the meantime, there is a court ruling banning the Waqf from removing these heaps without archaeological supervision.

   While examining the earth that was dug out of the ditch, we managed to notice First Temple, Second Temple and Byzantine Period pottery shards. We also noticed opus sectile tiles, that resembled those found in the sifting project. Assaf Avraham, site manager, has managed to prove that these tiles  date to the Second Temple Period (see third Progress Update and second Preliminary Report). This means that during the Second Temple Period, there were courts on the mount that were paved with this technique. We also managed to notice a certain type of clay glazed-frame tiles, similar to those  found in the sifting project. We are still unsure if these tiles match the Izmit Ottoman glazed wall tiles that have been a   very common find in the sifting. If so, then they date to the 16th century, and were probably removed during  the Jordanian renovations of the Dome of the Rock. Therefore, at least some of the earth that was dug out of the ditch also dates to Modern times. This is also a reasonable conclusion, since the work replaced an old electric line that was installed on 1959, but the current ditch was deeper that the previous line. 

  The most depressing part of this event is that it was done under the  authorization and even supervision of the Antiquities Authority. More information and pictures can be seen at the Temple Mount Archaeological Destruction website (www.har-habayt.org) Opus Sectille tile

Glazed Clay Tiles


2 replies
  1. Andrew Gold
    Andrew Gold says:

    I can’t believe that Israel would let such a terrible destruction occur. The Israel Antiquities Authority is really showing that it does not care about holy Jewish sites. The destruction needs to be stopped immediately.

  2. Dr M
    Dr M says:

    Three comments:
    1. Our impotence on the temple mount, where we couldn’t muster up even an outcry from within Israel, stands in shameful contrast to the public relations work of the Moslem world and the unjust world-wide outcry they raised when Israel set out to repair the Mughrabi gate access to the Temple Mount. While Moslems, using heavy earth-moving equipment on the very site of the Jewish Temples caused untold destruction with umpunity, Israel succumbed to pressures stop scientifically managed excavations of a collapsed ramp that in no way endangered the structures on the Temple mount.
    2. The silence of Israel’s media over this outrage and the cooperation of the prime minister’s office and the Israel Antiquities Authority with this destruction are a terrible blot on the supposed dedication of those who should be devoted to futhering the ties that bind Jews to their history and holy places.
    3. I fear that, in time, another corruption scandal will be discovered behind this travesty.


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