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More Details about the New Course of Ashlar Stones at the Bottom of the Raised Platform Northern Wall

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Leen Ritmeyer, archaeologist and architect expert of the Temple Mount, published a post in his blog referring to the new discovered course of ashlar stones at the bottom of the raised platform northern wall that we published here in a report two weeks ago. Ritmeyer discusses this wall in his post and eliminates the Byzantine and Umayyad dating, which leaves the Pre-Herodian dating to be highly probable.
We examined this find again, especially its chisel marks. We concluded that this course of stones could not be dated prior to the Umayyad period. Similar stones could be found in other sections of the raised platform wall and in other Umayyad sections of the Temple Mount walls. In addition, the Umayyad builders commonly made secondary use of stones from previous structures, so judging just by the type of stones and chisel marks we cannot disqualify dating these stones to the Early Islamic period.

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Last Tuesday, there was a discussion in the Knesset Interior Committee regarding antiquities destruction on the Temple Mount. The constructions and paving at new generator room was also discussed. The Antiquities Authority claimed that all of the construction works at the site were authorized by the special ministry council, and the works were supervised and completed a year and a half ago. In a discussion two weeks earlier in the same Knesset Committee, the Antiquities Authority claimed that since 2009 all the earth works are done manually and no heavy machinery is used.
Now, the facts that we know about this dig contradict these claims. In a video published on the internet two months ago, a bobcat tractor is seen working around the new generator and removing earth. No antiquities inspector or policeman is seen supervising this work. In addition, the work took place in October 2013 and is still not finished. The fact that the paving worked has stopped and has not been completed yet may imply that the IAA inspectors noticed this work in a late phase and then stopped it, due to the new archaeological information that was revealed during this dig. Could it be that the IAA was not aware of this earthwork, in spite all their claims that everything today is being supervised and controlled?

Report on Latest Waqf Works on the Temple Mount

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The final report of State Comptroller concerning illegal activities on the Temple Mount that was written in 2010 states that all the lessons from the draft (written in 2008) were learned, and now oversight of the Temple Mount has greatly improved.  Although there has been major improvement in police and IAA supervision at the site, unfortunately, things are not still satisfying. Last year we published a long report about antiquities desecration at the site since 2009, and even today, a few days after the comptroller report was brought to the public and a week after the IAA and police declared in a discussion in the interior committee in the Knesset that all construction work at the site is being reviewed, authorized and supervised by the police and IAA inspectors, we still encounter evidence that shows a different reality.

Yesterday we received reports about more dirt being removed from Solomon’s Stables with a small Bobcat tractor. We went today to check this out and found fresh dirt on top of the debris heaps in the eastern area of the Temple Mount.

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Just to remind our readers, the Supreme Court in 2004 ruled that these heaps must not be removed before being examined by archaeologists. This means that they should not even be mixed with other debris before being inspected. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening, and these heaps are being maneuvered, and more debris is poured upon it, making the future task of archaeologist to differentiate the between the various contexts of the finds more difficult.

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In addition, more graffiti has been noted in various locations, such as on the eastern wall of the raised platform.

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Recently, the ground level near the new generator room north of the raised platform was lowered by one foot. This work exposed an unknown course of stones from an earlier phase of this wall. This course could be dated to the Early Umayyad period or even the Second Temple Period. L. Ritmeyer suggested that the foundation of this course was the original northern wall of the Temple Mount, and there is evidence for this thesis in various spots along this line.

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It appears that somewhere on the Mount more construction is currently taking place. This can be deduced from new construction material that has been brought inside the compound.

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On the floor of the Dome of the Spirits there are some rare remnants of an opus sectile floor. These remnants are probably in secondary use and include Byzantine and Herodian tiles. In the picture below is a nice rectangular bituminous limestone tile that was recently severely damaged. Older pictures show some cracks, but for some reason the cracks have become much wider. On and around it remains of a blue spray paint can be seen. It appears like someone laid a very heavy object upon this floor and painted it. This work damaged the ancient floor and left stains on it.

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In addition, the Israeli police have tightened their security checking of the visitors to the Temple Mount  which results in a very long line of visitors that now extends out of Dung Gate towards the City of David. Because it takes so long to pass through security before entering the site and because the visiting time is so limited, many tourists are being denied entry to the Temple Mount.

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Classified State Comptroller Report is Now Published

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Someone has leaked the State Comptroller classified report about the Antiquities Destruction on the Temple Mount. It is now published in The Jewish Voice NY together with an English translation. This is the first time this information is published in the media, although we have published many of the archaeological details in the past.

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