Help Supporting the TMSP

December 1, 2013

The Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) has, since 2004, been retrieving identifying, classifying invaluable ancient archeological artifacts from the illicit excavation debris removed from the Temple Mount.

The TSMP differs from most archaeological excavations in that there is an extraordinarily wide variety of finds from an equally wide spectrum of historical periods.  This is understandable for a site that has played such a central role in the history of the Land of Israel in all periods

Since September 2005 the sifting operation has been funded by the Ir-David Foundation, but in order to publish a full scientific report of the main finds, the analysis of the finds has been funded, to-date, by private donations, administered  (on our behalf) through the Israel Exploration Society.

With donations received in November 2010, we established an archaeological laboratory in South Jerusalem.  In early 2011 we began the intensive process of the research of the finds (also funded from these donations).  After three years of operations, our remaining funds, earmarked for the continuing study of the finds in 2014: sufficient for four months of limited operations.

Professional papers and preliminary report have been presented at a number of archeological conferences in Israel.  The publications are in Hebrew and include a general summary on the project and a review on some of our finds. We plan to publish an extensive “popular” article in English in the coming summer.


A unique analytic challenge

Our next challenge is scientific publication of the analysis of our finds.

As we advanced with this study we have realized that this analysis requires much more effort than what we initially presumed. The number of finds we have unearthed, to date, is in the hundreds of thousands (and in millions in the case of pottery shards).  This means that much classification and statistical analytic work still lies ahead of us.

During the past year we discovered that there is a greater potential in the quantitative (statistical) analysis of the data than what we thought at the beginning of the research. Although the earth excavated from the Mount was moved from one place to another several times, it was not completely mixed, and consequently the finds are not distributed evenly among all areas of the dump, but some remain, by-and-large, in context-associated clusters.

The consequence of this very significant understanding is that, through the appropriate application of quantitative analysis, we can learn much more about the context of the prevalent finds than what we had initially thought.  However, in order to conduct a proper statistical analysis we have to further sort, classify and study all of the finds we have recovered.

The quantitative methodology we are using, and will be refining as our work progresses, is a significant innovation for archaeological research.  Our methodology and study techniques have the potential for implementation in other excavations, especially those that deal with the study of earth fills, or in other sites that also suffered disruptions in the archeological strata.  The application of this methodology for the Temple Mount finds will be the first large-site use of these methodologies in archeology.

The results and understanding gained from this research analysis will be very rewarding, both to the public-at-large and to the professional archeological community, primarily, in two significant aspects:

  • For the first time the archaeological finds that lie inside the Temple Mount soil will be scientifically documented and published. The study of the analysis results of the finds  will shed much light on the Temple Mount’s past material culture, such as: its builders and rebuilders; its religious and social use; its defenders and conquerors; all in the context of archeological periods of the Temple Mount, and especially in relation to the historical record; and
  • Advances in the use of statistical methods in archeological excavations, especially for those sites that have suffered disruption of the archeological strata.

Funding needs

After the three years of work we can more precisely estimate our further needs and budget. In order to complete the analysis of the finds and prepare the publications, we will need approximately $630,000.

Fortunately, we recently received a pledge of $200,000 from two donors, conditional on us accessing additional donations to complete our budget requirement of $430,000.  We would be more than grateful for any assistance to close our budget shortfall.

Publication plan and budget will be sent by request.

Small donations could be sent by credit card via the Ir-David foundation. Please write in the comments that it is designated to the Temple Mount Sifting Project and send us a notice at tmsifting@gmail.com.

For large donations please contact us at tmsifting@gmail.com.

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