The annual conference of New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region that was held yesterday at Hebrew University had many new significant publications, which makes it one of the most interesting conferences about the archaeology of Jerusalem to take place in the last decade.

We have many comments on the publications, many of which are related to the research we are conducting on the finds from the Temple Mount soil. There were some important things that some scholars either did not notice in our published research or were entirely unaware of because the information has yet to be published. Some scholars used Sifting Project finds as evidence for their thesis, but clearly did not understand our methodology or the archaeological importance of the soil we are sifting. This is one example of why it is so important that we move forward in our research and publish more preliminary articles about these issues in the near future.

Most significant to our research was Yuval Baruch’s publication on the IAA discoveries in supervising Awaqf construction works. He revealed significant new data that was not previously published before, as well as information that was published but not understood correctly. For example, he spoke about the Iron Age assemblage that was found in the 2007 electricity cable trench. He has described the assemblage as in situ finds on a floor. We know now that the small pot sherds, bones and figurine fragments is similar to some of the Iron Age finds we’ve been recovering in the sifting for the last 12 years and that it is a typical refuse assemblage and not one that is found on floor levels. We also suspect that some of the Iron Age finds from the Temple Mount which are of refuse contexts were imported with dirt from the eastern slopes of the Temple Mount. The refuse from these slopes originally came from the Temple Mount, so in any case we are dealing with finds that were in use in the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.

It was probably imported during the Second Temple period from the eastern slopes of the Temple Mount.

A very important article was published by Assaf Avraham and Peretz Reuven (both also associated with the Sifting Project) about an early Islamic inscription that describes the Dome of the Rock as the Rock of the Temple (Sakhra Bayt al-Maqdis). More details about it will probably be published in the media next week.

The most important publication at the conference, which did not receive appropriate attention and publicity, was by Johanna Regev, Nahshon Szanton, Joseph Uziel and Elisabetta Boaretto. They conducted Carbon 14 tests on the foundation of the fortifications of the spring house in the City of David. The results indicate that these fortifications were probably built during the 9th century BCE. This contradicts the commonly accepted dating of the Middle Bronze age by Reich and Shukrun. These results are a revolution in the research of the City of David.

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