Update on the Crowd Funding Campaign

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50 days ago we launched a crowd funding campaign to support the research and publication of the Temple Mount finds. We’ve produced a video clip summarizing the story of the Sifting Project and the importance of publishing the finds.

The video has English and Hebrew versions, and the website and English video are translated into 15 more languages. We translated the website to many languages since we believe that the story of the Sifting Project and the story of the Temple Mount – as evidenced by its archaeological finds – will be of much interests all over the world.

When we launched the campaign on Facebook the Hebrew video immediately went viral and reached 10,000 people within three days, while the English video was less successful and reached 3,500 people. Up to date the videos were watched (30 sec views and more) on Facebook and YouTube by 43,797 people. 12,050 people have visited the website and 199 people have donated a total sum of $21,940. We intend to continue the campaign until the end of 2015.

The video has the potential to reach a very wide audience, especially these days when the Temple Mount is in the focus of the news. Since many ignorant comments are being heard in the media and distorted articles are published in major newspapers, this story and archaeological information is essential for establishing an educated debate.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project does not have a political agenda, and as open minded academic researchers we are open minded for any conclusion that can be deducted from the finds. We oppose ignorance. All scientific or academic research eventually serves humanity by helping us make better decisions. If the sifting project finds could help reduce tensions that are rooted by ignorance – we would be happy to serve this goal as well.

It is worthwhile to mention that about 15% of the website visitors are Arab speakers, and there are about 353 shares and hundreds of likes to the Arabic version of the website. It seems like the Arab world is very interested in this story.

If you haven’t visited the website yet, so please do so at: http://half-shekel.org , and if you could donate and encourage your friends to donate to the project, we would be grateful.

A Campaign for Publishing the TMSP to the World


Dear Friends,

This video is about a story that is relevant to each one of you. It is a story of universal significance. It is the story of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, of antiquities buried in soil, and the unique archaeological project for sifting this soil, once dumped so unceremoniously outside its gated walls.

This story is not about politics or religion. It is a simple and fundamental thing about our ability to understand our heritage and the history of one of the most important sites in the western world. Here, fateful and magnificent events took place, changing forever the Jewish nation and having impact on the very formation of western civilization. Indeed, what happened here can be said to have affected the whole of human history.
We cannot let these priceless archaeological finds be overlooked or forgotten!

Please watch this video, which is available in 17 languages, and visit our website, half-shekel.org. If you think this project is of importance, please help us distribute this message all over the globe by sharing this video and website.

Thank you.

Zachi Dvira,
Co-Director Archaeologist,
Temple Mount Sifting Project

Update on Recent Developments at the Sifting Project

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The number of visitors/volunteers at the Sifting Project has been increasing year by year and also the volume of the material that has been sifted. To date we have sifted about half of the debris that is on hand. This means that we have at least ten more years of sifting. This is without taking into account the large amount of dirt that is lying in heaps in the eastern olive grove on the Temple Mount and has not yet been removed due to a Supreme Court ruling from 2004.

The sifting site continues to develop, and recently we have installed new permanent restrooms, another office for staff use, and a newly upgraded green house. Also we have expanded the seating in the introduction hall.

Gal Zagdon, the archaeologist who managed the daily work at the sifting site for the past six years, announced last week that he is retiring from archaeology and will be leaving us soon. Gal will leave a large vacant space that will be difficult to fill in, and we wish him good luck in his future occupation. We will give more details about his retirement in the future.

Currently, our research efforts are dedicated to sorting and analyzing the prevalent finds. We are about to complete the basic chronological and typological sorting of the one hundred thousand pottery rims we gathered so far! Soon, we will begin an in-depth high resolution typological sorting and statistical analysis of the pottery, which quite certainly will yield very interesting information and knowledge. Already now, we are gathering valuable information from the basic sorting of the pottery. It appears that we have evidence of the presence of activity on the Temple Mount during the Middle Bronze and Late Bronze ages. Although the number of pieces of pottery from these periods is small, they should not be neglected. There is also clear presence of activity during the Iron IIA period (the time of Kings Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat and Joash), during the time between the two Jewish Revolts against the Roman (70-132 CE). The Byzantine period pottery appears in abundance, and from the Early Moslem period we have evidence of pottery production.

The analysis of the coins is in its final phase, and it appears that we are have recovered some very rare coins, including a – Crusader gold coin, ours being only the second of its type found in the world. In addition, the study of the following subjects are close to being completed : opus sectile floor tiles, arrowheads, horseshoe nails, construction nails, roof tiles, bone objects, glass bracelets and rings, beads, stone vessels, and glazed wall tiles. We are beginning to see the light in the end of the tunnel.

Recently, several unique and interesting finds were discovered, but it is difficult to give more details about them at this stage, since they require further in-depth study. But among these are bullae with Greek inscriptions (one from the Hellenistic period and the second is probably Byzantine), Late Bronze scarabs and scarabs impressions, unique anepigraphic bullae, a rare bronze arrowhead that seems to date to the Iron Age I-IIA (the Jebusite period until the time of King Solomon), stone weights from the First Temple Period (which may give us new information regarding the standard weight of the “holy shekel” that was used in the Temple), fragments of architectural elements from the time of the Hasmonean and the Herodian dynasties, many Christian crosses and crucifixes made of iron, bronze and mother-of-pearl, evidence of a bone objects industry during the Late Roman period, a rare Ottoman seal of the grand Mufti of Jerusalem during the 18th century (‘Abd al-Fatah al Tamimi), and British military insignia.

The things mentioned above are just a small glimpse of the great abundance of finds we managed to gather during the sifting so far, and the research work is long and tedious. This is the reason we do not publish more frequently and with more details, so we apologize for that. As the research has advanced, the time necessary and the number of tasks to be completed have significantly increased, so we are now working on further fund raising for the research and publication tasks.

In addition, we continue to give sifting services to other excavations, and recently some very exciting finds were discovered during our sifting of the material from the IAA excavations in the City of David, which will be published by the IAA excavators in the future. Only last week we received a large amount of dirt from the renewed excavations in Lachish directed by Prof. Yossi Garfinkel. From the finds already recovered at the field itself, it seems that the sifting of this soil will be worthwhile and promising.

To date, the Sifting Project has proven to be very important for the elaboration of the history of the Temple Mount. Even now we have new information that may well change the written history of some of the periods of the Temple Mount.

Stone Weights from the First Temple Period

Stone Weights from the First Temple Period

Opus Sectile floor tiles from Temple Mount courts during the Herodian Period

Opus Sectile floor tiles from Temple Mount courts during the Herodian Period

Roman Arrowheads from the Late Second Temple Period

Roman Arrowheads from the Late Second Temple Period

An assortment of jewelry from various periods.

An assortment of jewelry from various periods.

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