Tag Archives: Temple Mount

Boy, That’s A Right Stinging Slap to the Claims of Eilat Mazar

I can feel the burn all the way over here.

Benny Ziffer writes

A breathtaking Jewish archaeological discovery? Give me a break. That one little gold plate bearing Jewish symbols amid some sort of package that perhaps fell out of someone’s pocket in Jerusalem of the 7th century C.E. does not prove anything.

No news there to anyone who knows the subject. And then

… an obsessive pining for a glorious past serves as a form of therapeutic compensation for nations suffering from a problem of low self-esteem in the present.

So, now we come to us Israelis and to the invention of our past. It is unpleasant to admit that archaeology here contains far too many identifying signs of a science that has been enlisted on behalf of a national obsession. In the state’s early years, there was still something quaint about the so-called “enlisted” archaeology and the national enthusiasm over each new ancient finding. No more. That enthusiasm has become a caricature.

Interesting evaluation from an insider, isn’t it? But there’s more:

And there was indeed something utterly ridiculous about the naive excitement with which archaeologist Eilat Mazar recently presented to all and sundry a round, gold plate that had been discovered in excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount, which bears the symbol of a menorah. Dr. Mazar declared it “a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime discovery.” This, of course, delighted our prime minister, who was quick to react with the comment: “This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish people’s link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage.” Blah, blah, blah.

And now the best part (and the bold print is mine for emphasis) –

In my opinion, a serious scientist ought to hang his head in shame when his findings are given a vulgar interpretation like that. But it turns out that the archaeologists excavating in East Jerusalem and the territories have already accustomed themselves to not being ashamed of tainting pure science with the dust of national-religious ideology. It brings them donations from right-wing organizations for additional excavations. It makes the public take an interest in archaeology. What’s wrong with that? Be happy for them.


I am not an archaeologist and not the son of an archaeologist. But I was not convinced in the least by what I saw. That one little gold plate bearing Jewish symbols amid some sort of package that perhaps fell out of someone’s pocket in Jerusalem of the 7th century C.E. does not prove anything: It is simply a little gold plate bearing Jewish symbols.

Indeed it does not.  Except that archaeology with little else than an eye for donations is alive and well.  And that’s really something to be ashamed of.

Mismanagement by Palestinians

I saw mention of this by Shahar Shocron on the facebook-

Journalist Michael Freund posted the image above on his Facebook page. For those who cannot recognize what it is, Freund explains. “Here, in a pile of rubble and trash on the Temple Mount, lies a marble column from the Second Temple that was broken and then discarded by the Muslim Wakf which effectively controls the area. Our heritage is under assault. It is time for the Israeli government to act, and take back control of the Temple Mount!”

I’m not so sure about the last sentence but the fact that such things are being trashed by the Palestinians is inexcusable.  The ‘erasure’ of history by the means of the destruction or dismissal of historical artifacts is inexcusable, whether it’s being done by Israelis or Palestinians.

A First Temple Cistern Discovered in Jerusalem

You read that right, First Temple period!

Photo: IAA

A large water reservoir dating to the First Temple period was uncovered during archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, near Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.

The excavation which exposed the reservoir is part of ongoing efforts to map ancient Jerusalem’s entire drainage channel. The findings, together with other discoveries from the past year, will be presented on Thursday at the 13th annual conference on the “City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem.”

The recently discovered reservoir, with an approximate capacity of 250 cubic meters, is one of the largest water reservoirs ever discovered from the First Temple period. Due to its size, archaeologists believe the reservoir was designed for and used by the general public.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the exposure of the current reservoir, as well as smaller cisterns that were revealed along the Tyropoeon Valley, unequivocally indicates that Jerusalem’s water consumption in the First Temple period was not solely based on the output of the Gihon Spring water works, but also on more available water resources such as the one we have just discovered.”

Dr. Tvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority and an expert on ancient water systems, presumed that “the large water reservoir, which is situated near the Temple Mount, was used for the everyday activities of the Temple Mount itself and also by the pilgrims who went up to the Temple and required water for bathing and drinking.”

Interesting that the assertion is that the water was used for pilgrims visiting the Temple and as yet there is no evidence of the Temple.  Perhaps a more cautious evaluation is in order.

Have The Remains of Jews Killed by the Romans in Jerusalem in 70 a.d. Been Discovered?

Antonio writes

Veteran journalist Benny Liss releases movie he filmed of underground cave on Temple Mount where he found a mass grave. He believes the skeletons are the remains of Jews massacred by the Romans when they destroyed the Temple Mount, but urges the authorities to properly examine the area.

The report he cites continues

Remains of thousands of Jews massacred by the Romans on the Temple Mount at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple may have been uncovered in Jerusalem, according to a veteran archaeological journalist.

During a conference on Thursday at Megalim – the City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies, journalist Benny Liss screened a movie recorded a few years ago that clearly shows thousands of skeletons and human bones in what appears to be a mass grave.

Liss, veteran archaeological correspondent for Israel’s Channel 1, told the amazed audience that the film had been shot in a spacious, underground cavern in the area of the Mercy Gate, near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, but just outside it. Liss raised the possibility that the skeletons were the remains of 6,000 Jews, mostly women and children, killed on the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple, as described in the writings of Flavius Josephus, who witnessed the destruction.

This may be an exceedingly important discovery.

The First Written Evidence Confirming Jerusalem Temple Ritual Practices

Photo by: Vladimir Naykhin

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered the first archeological find to confirm written testimony of the ritual practices at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  An Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeological survey at the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount yielded a tiny tin artifact, the size of a button, inscribed with the Aramaic words: “Daka Le’Ya,” which the excavation directors on behalf of the IAA, archaeologists Eli Shukron and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, explain means “pure for God.”

Researchers believe the artifact, dated to the first century, towards the end of the Second Temple period, is a seal similar to those described in the Mishnah. If they are correct, this is the first time physical evidence of the temple ritual was found to corroborate the written record.  The team believes the tiny seal was put on objects designated to be used in the temple, and thus had to be ceremonially pure.

A first century artifact is quite interesting.  Let’s hope for higher resolution photos soon.

UPDATE:  Joseph Lauer provides a link for hi res photos.  Thanks Joseph!

Herod Didn’t Construct the Entire ‘Western Wall’

Antonio relates

Who built the Temple Mount walls? Every tour guide and every student grounded in the history of Jerusalem will immediately reply that it was Herod. However, in the archaeological excavations alongside the ancient drainage channel of Jerusalem a very old ritual bath (miqwe) was recently discovered that challenges the conventional archaeological perception which regards Herod as being solely responsible for its construction.

He’s got some observations of his own as well as links elsewhere.  Take a look at the photos provided by the IAA-

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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.

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