Yesterday the Waqf began a new small scale construction dig just a few meters from the northwest side of the Dome of the Rock. The purpose of the work was to expose an old water pipe in order to replace it.
Today we visited the site and found out that they dug out a trench about 20 m long and 1/2 m deep. The work was done manually under police and Antiquities Authority supervision. No ancient architectural remnants were noticed in the trench by us or by the inspector. At the south end of the trench we noticed some earth with a red-brown color. If this is indeed a sign of the terra rossa soil layer, this means they might have penetrated a layer that predates the First Temple destruction.
From the trench they removed several cubic meters of debris , and, unfortunately, they discarded it on top of the debris heaps on the east side of the Temple Mount compound. We found this dump and briefly examined it. The soil was very wet so it was difficult to notice pottery shards, but we did find two fragments of glazed Ottoman tiles that were probably removed from the Dome of the Rock in one of the renovations in the last century.
Debris from the water pipe trench discarded on top of the debris heaps from other digs
This could be a unique opportunity to examine a sample of Temple Mount soil from the site of the Temple. Unfortunately, the authorities do not give much importance to the potential of this soil, as shown in the Sifting Project, otherwise it would have been dumped in a separate secure place. In spite this issue, it seems like the authorities this time were alert and insisted on enforcing the antiquities laws at the site.