Throughout history, clay, being inexpensive and abundant, has been the most widely employed material for producing vessels needed for daily use. For this reason, the shattered remains of ceramic vessels saturate archaeological sites to this day. While the style and decoration of pottery underwent constant change, the technological methods of production developed gradually.
Over the years, the Sifting Project has uncovered hundreds of thousands of pottery sherds attesting to the thousands of years in which the Temple Mount was inhabited. Indeed, there are few sites that can match the dense archaeological continuum and historical richness revealed on the Temple Mount.
Unlike conventional excavations, the pottery found in the Temple Sifting Project doesn’t typically undergo restoration of any kind. Most of the pottery sherds uncovered in the project are small, and out of literally millions of sherds collected, only 200,000 indicative specimens were saved, including 120,000 rim samples. A vessel’s rim is often subject to stylistic changes and hence provides information regarding its date, as well as the type of vessel it represents. Quite often, the shape of the complete original vessel can be determined based solely on a relatively small section of the rim.
Our primary research objective regarding pottery finds involves cataloguing the various types in comprehensive databases and then conducting extensive statistical analysis. This methodology enables us to recognize certain patterns, such as the distribution of specific ceramic types within the debris dump sections, thus suggesting possible information regarding their original context. In addition, the data may be compared to other sites in Jerusalem, hence allowing us to discern attributes that may be unique to the Temple Mount.