Earlier this week there were some reports in the media about Arabs burning “First Temple Cedars of Lebanon.”
These reports were based more on assumptions than facts. The facts are that the stack of wooden beams that was lying on the ground in the courtyard of the Golden Gate for the past few years was removed last Sunday to a new location. Meanwhile, nearby there was a fire burning in a large barrel (see video below). Some reports accused the Moslem Waqf of burning these beams in the barrel.
In reality, none of the beams were burned, but they were all removed to a new location where they are now covered to protect them from the rain. This is something that the IAA and the Jordanian officials were demanding from the Waqf in recent years. We cannot verify that the beams are now in a shelter that will adequately protect them from humidity, but indeed they are in a much better location than before.
Regarding the fire in the barrel, just modern refuse was being burned. Since 2004, a court ruling forbids removal of debris from the Temple Mount without proper archaeological supervision. The police abide by this ruling very strictly and prevent the Waqf from even removing modern debris. This is why they were burning it on the Temple Mount.
Regarding the dating of the beams, it is most probable that they should be dated to the Byzantine period and not to the First Temple Period. In 1976 dozens of these wooden beams from the Temple Mount were studied and dated using Carbon 14 and Dendrochronological methods. The results showed that only two of them, which were not cedars, were from the First Temple Period, several others were from the Second Temple, Mamluk and Ottoman periods. The vast majority of them were cedars from the Byzantine period. (See: S. Lev Yadun, “The Origin of the Cedar Beams from Al-Aqsa Mosque: Botanical, Historical and Archaeological Evidence”, Levant 24, 1992 “).
The main problem regarding the beams is that, until recently, there was no awareness as to their importance, so consequently, many of them were sold to wood merchants and others were recycled on the Temple Mount in the past several years (We will post more details about this in the coming days).