Zeev Herzog on the ‘Mound on the Mount’

Via Niels Peter Lemche

A note on the “Mound on the Mount”

In the article ‘The Mound On The Mount: A Possible Solution To The “Problem With Jerusalem”‘ (JOURNAL OF HEBREW SCRIPTURES, Volume 11) my colleagues at Tel Aviv University: Israel Finkelstein, Ido Koch & Oded Lipschits repeatedly claim that the remains of the Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age IIA of Jerusalem might be still buried within the Temple Mount.

This claim is incorrect. Even if they are right in their hypothesis, that the settlements were located on the northern hill, the layers of these occupations are not preserved within the area of the Temple Mount any more.

A basic rule of archaeological method is that no remains are present once a dig reaches the natural bedrock. The fact that bedrock is exposed at the very top of the Temple Mount, today enclosed within ‘Dome of the Rock’, indicates that there are no man made deposits present within the mound. The rather flat bedrock surface mapped throughout the Temple Mount (dotted with cisterns) suggests that the rocky top of the original hill was leveled, apparently by Herod to create the monumental platform. Thus, the remnants of any early occupations that stood here, as well as the remains of the First, Second, and Third (Herodian) Temples had been completely removed and lost forever.

In my view all the pre-Iron IIB occupations were located on the Southern Hill, near the Gichon spring, and their remains were mostly removed by Herodian construction projects.

Ze’ev Herzog
Professor Emeritus
Tel Aviv University

Forwarded with the permission of Zeev Herzog.