The Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation is an archaeological project begun in 2005 dedicated to recovering archaeological artifacts from 300 truckloads of topsoil removed from the Temple Mount by the Waqf during the construction of the underground el-Marwani Mosque from 1996-1999. [1] The project is sponsored by Bar Ilan University with funding by the Ir David Foundation.

The construction of the mosque, 18,000 square feet (1,700 m2) and 36 feet (11 m) deep, entailed excavating layers of earth that are believed to have been undisturbed since antiquity.

File:Temple mount works.jpg
The project entailed the use of heavy earthmoving equipment. The work was carried out without regard for the archaeological significance of the area and the possibility that important artifacts may have been buried in the soil. The debris was dumped in the Kidron Valley to the east of the Temple Mount."[2]

Under the supervision of Israeli archaeologists Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig of Bar Ilan University, all 300 loads of topsoil removed by the Waqf are being sifted in search of artifacts. [3]

Dore Gold has called the removal of archaeological material from the Temple Mount without archaeological supervision by the waqf a physical form of Denial of the Temple in Jerusalem.[4]

The topsoil is being sorted at a site in the Emek Tzurim National Park, at the foot of Mt. Scopus. [5]Hundreds of artifacts have been found, including coins and jewelry, some with biblical links dating back more than three millennia. [6]The workers use a technique called "wet sifting," similar to panning for gold. Every particle is examined, using wire filters that are rinsed under water. [7]

Significant finds

  • 10,000 year old flint tools[8]
  • First Temple period bulla. A piece of hardened clay with a seal impression upon it, c. 2,600 years old. The inscription bears part of official's name, Gedalyahu son of Immer. [3]
  • An iron arrowhead with a shaft used by the Tenth Roman Legion during the siege of the Second Temple [9]
  • Scores of coins, many of them Jewish and minted by the Hasmonean and Herodian dynasty, others Byzantine. More recent coins date from the 17th century[10]
  • A bronze pendant several hundred years old depicts the Holy Grail.[11]


External links

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