Temple Mount News
Yesterday the Waqf began a new small scale construction dig just a few meters from the northwest side of the Dome of the Rock. The purpose of the work was to expose an old water pipe in order to replace it.
Today we visited the site and found out that they dug out a trench about 20 m long and 1/2 m deep. The work was done manually under police and Antiquities Authority supervision. No ancient architectural remnants were noticed in the trench by us or by the inspector. At the south end of the trench we noticed some earth with a red-brown color. If this is indeed a sign of the terra rossa soil layer, this means they might have penetrated a layer that predates the First Temple destruction.
- A Water Pipe Trench North-West the Dome of the Rock
- Terra rosa soil at the south edge of the trench
From the trench they removed several cubic meters of debris , and, unfortunately, they discarded it on top of the debris heaps on the east side of the Temple Mount compound. We found this dump and briefly examined it. The soil was very wet so it was difficult to notice pottery shards, but we did find two fragments of glazed Ottoman tiles that were probably removed from the Dome of the Rock in one of the renovations in the last century.
Debris from the water pipe trench discarded on top of the debris heaps from other digs
This could be a unique opportunity to examine a sample of Temple Mount soil from the site of the Temple. Unfortunately, the authorities do not give much importance to the potential of this soil, as shown in the Sifting Project, otherwise it would have been dumped in a separate secure place. In spite this issue, it seems like the authorities this time were alert and insisted on enforcing the antiquities laws at the site.
Media, Temple Mount News
On last Friday , Nadav Shragai, a journalist who is a specialist on Temple Mount issues, published a very good article about the recent antiquities destruction in the Temple Mount.
This is the link:
Earth Transferring, Temple Mount News
Following the tour we conducted yesterday for journalists, Melanie Lidman from the Jerusalem Post published an extensive article about the debris removal from last week. In this article, the police spokesmen is quoted saying:
“Antiquities from 3,000 years ago or 1,500 years ago aren’t going to be in the first 30 cm. [of dirt pulled up with the bushes].”
This quote just proves our point regarding the ignorance of the police about how to preserve the antiquities at the site. These debris heaps are not stratified as like in a regular archaeological site, in which the top 30 cm topsoil represents the recent periods. These heaps are dirt that has already been excavated from the depth of up to 12m near Solomon’s Stables during the 1999 creation of an entrance for the new Al-Marwani Mosque. In addition, the topsoil itself in every archeological site contains a mixture of archaeological artifacts from all periods there was activity at the site.
In the article the Adnan Huseini, former head of the Waqf, is also interviewed. This is the first comment we hear from a Waqf personnel about this issue. He admits that this was the first time in the last 8 years they got permission to remove debris from the site.