First evidence of human activity unearthed from Jerusalem’s Solomon Temple

November 14th, 2007 - 2:45 am ICT by admin  
The findings include animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar.

The bowl sherds feature wheel burnishing decorative lines characteristic of the First Temple Period.

Experts say the artefacts could be the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount - also known as Solomon’s Temple - in that time.

Religious leaders do not allow archaeological excavations on Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites for Judaism and Islam.

Jews and Christians know the site as the Temple Mount and Muslims know it as the Noble Sanctuary.

The human-made plateau covers the hill where Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe Abraham nearly sacrificed his son Isaac at God’s behest. Muslims also believe that Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven there to receive prayers from God before returning to Earth.

Islam’s Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque now covers the site.

Jerusalem’s district archaeologist Yuval Baruch, who is supervising the Muslim maintenance project, said Waqf Muslims found the relics during routine maintenance work at the site.

The researchers including Baruch and Sy Gitin, director of the WF Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, Ronny Reich of Haifa University, and Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, have now concluded that the discovery might help reconstruct the dimensions and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.

In addition, the research team have also recovered a piece of a whitewashed, handmade object, which could have been used to decorate a larger object or may have been the leg of an animal figurine.

According to the archaeologists, these unique findings could shed new light on what lay hidden beneath Israel’s most mysterious archaeological site.

“This is the first time we have shards from the Temple Mount with a [uniform] date,” said Reich.

He said the find “most certainly” indicated the presence of people in the temple during the late eighth century and seventh century BC.

“From an archaeological standpoint, this is the first time this has happened. You can say that this was written in the Bible - but the Bible is a text and texts can be played around with. This is physical evidence,” Reich said.

Gideon Avni from the IAA’s excavations and surveys department said: “This is the first time we have found artefacts that have not been disturbed by later periods”.

But the excavation won’t be able to pinpoint the location of the First Temple on the mount, he said.

Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer, who discovered King Herod’s tomb earlier this year, said the excavation at Temple Mount was done in a very rash manner.

“In such a special place, [the Waqf] should have conducted an organized and proper excavation. But this was done with bulldozers and mechanical tools. Digging of this sort can cause damage,” National Geographic quoted Netzer, as saying.

The Temple Mount was Jordanian territory until the Six-Day war in 1967, when Israel conquered Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel left internal administration of the compound to the Waqf, while Israeli police took responsibility for overall security. (ANI)

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