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Solomon’s Stables: History and Destruction

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Learn More about Solomon’s Stables!

Hello everyone! We are starting a new video series on YouTube taking you on a tour of the Temple Mount! Check out the first video and see Solomon’s Stables! This structure has a rich history and is now the Al-Marwani Mosque. This is also the area of the Temple Mount from where most of our material originated.

Here are some of the highlights from the video and some more interesting facts about the site!

Fun Facts about Solomon’s Stables on the Temple Mount

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Crusader Horseshoe Nails

The structure housed the horses of the Knights Templar during the Crusades. We have found many horseshoe nails, arrowheads, coins, and bits of armor from the Crusader period.

On the stones in the piers that hold up the vaulted ceiling of the structure, you can see the draft margin from the Herodian period. The other sides imitate this poorly, so we know these stones are in secondary use, originating from the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount platform. The structure was constructed in the Early Islamic Period.

As reconstruction, earthquakes, or other building happened on the Temple Mount over the last millennium, the debris would be removed to the Eastern side of the Temple Mount. Therefore, the material we are sifting is not necessarily specific to this corner of the Mount. Rather it is a sample of many different sites across the Temple Mount and shows us bits and pieces of the whole history of the Temple Mount.

There is possibly another structure beneath Solomon’s Stables because the walls of the Temple Mount platform could not hold so much soil without further support and the bedrock is very low.

The Destruction:

  1. In 1996, renovation began in Solomon’s Stables in order to convert it into a usable mosque (Al-Marwani Mosque). The wall between the Triple Gate and Solomon’s Stables was breached to create an entrance to the new mosque. Dirt heaps were removed from within the structure.
  2. Digging in front of Solomon’s Stables

    Digging in front of Solomon’s Stables (nov. 1999)

    In 1999, a new monumental (huge) entrance way was opened. This was done by bulldozer and without archaeological supervision. This was initiated by the Northern Flank of the Islamic Movement in Israel in coordination with the Waqf. Prime Minister Barak gave oral permission for this new entrance as well on a smaller scale. Legally in Israel, any construction must first complete a salvage excavation to record any archaeology in the proposed construction zone. Especially in a place as sensitive and historic as the Temple Mount, this excavation is not only necessary legally but also ethically. No such excavation took place.

  3. You can still see evidence of different structures from different periods in the last millennium, but these structures were partially removed in the bulldozing without being recorded.
  4. The soil from the initial 1996 cleaning and the subsequent 1999 bulldozing was first dumped along the Eastern wall within the Temple Mount complex.
  5. From these heaps along the Eastern wall, 60 truckloads of soil was then moved to a municipal garbage dump where it got mixed with garbage and we could not sift it.
  6. After protest, the remaining 300 truckloads of earth were dumped in the Kidron Valley. This is area K.
  7. The paved plaza was also lowered and the 34 truckloads of earth was also dumped along the eastern side or in a compound in town. We call this area T.
  8. Some material remains on the Eastern side of the Temple Mount and will not be removed any time in the near future because of politics.
  9. We have completed about 70% of the sifting and hope to finish the remaining 30% when we have the budget to resume the sifting.

Reminder

If you would like to support our research, right now is a GREAT time to do that! Every donation made at www.half-shekel.org will be MATCHED and DOUBLED by a very generous supporter of our project.

Crusader Columns

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Crusader Column Fragment

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John and the column fragment

Find of the Month: November!

This month’s Find of the Month is this fantastic fragment of a column from the Crusader Period. It was found by volunteers, John Walker and Timothy Ressler, who were visiting from America. Though we have found many fragments of architectural elements over the years, finding a piece as intact and clearly identifiable as this one, is rare. We really appreciate Tim and John’s help and the help of all of our volunteers who help us uncover archaeological gems like this one.

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Crusader column with curls like the one found at the Sifting Project

Crusader period columns are usually very simple in design, and there are actually columns and pieces of columns from the Crusader period still on the Temple Mount that match this fragment found in our soil. My first question about the artifact was, “Is it from Solomon’s Stables?” The answer is that it probably is not from inside the stables, which uses mostly stones from the Herodian period. More likely, the column fragment comes from the Crusader Church or Monastery that was destroyed at the end of the Crusader period when the Muslims retook control over the Temple Mount. It is possible that this fragment is from that initial destruction, but it is also possible that the column it came from was put in secondary use during the Ayyubid or Mamluk period and was broken later on. Either way it is a really interesting look at a time period on the Temple Mount not often discussed.

When I started asking about this fragment, Frankie, our expert in Opus Sectile, but also really knowledgeable about the Temple Mount and the Crusader Period, began describing the layout of the Temple Mount during the Crusader period and what happened afterward. I managed to get it on film, so here is a quick video. I hope you enjoy!

Follow us on YouTube for more videos like this one and for archaeology related playlists!

Check out some of our other recent Finds of the Month!

Update from the Field

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Crusader Arrowhead Found

Yesterday, Jakob Okun, age 14, found a fantastic Crusader arrowhead. He came with classmates from Bi-Cultural Day School located in Stamford, CT USA.

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Crusader era arrowhead found at the Temple Mount Sifting Project

Could it have been used by the Knights Templar??

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Crusader era arrowhead

In scholarly texts, the Temple Mount is commonly associated with the Knights Templar in the Crusader Period (1099-1187 CE). The Knights used the Al-Aqsa Mosque as their headquarters and turned the large southeastern substructure into stables for their horses, calling it “Solomon’s Stables.” The earth we are sifting originated in the area of Solomon’s Stables and has yielded many remnants of Crusader activity, including arrowheads like this one! We’ve also found many horseshoe nails and armor scales typical of European medieval cavalry. This is the first archaeological evidence we have of the Knights Templar in Solomon’s Stables.

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Crusader era iron horseshoe nails which belonged to the horses of the knights Templar that resided in Solomon’s Stables.

The finds from our project greatly contribute to the archaeological and historical research of the Temple Mount during the Crusader Period. We discovered the biggest and most varied collection of silver coins ever found in Jerusalem from this period; among them are extremely rare coins and a one-of-a-kind Knights Templar medallion. The Crusader finds include many cruciform pendants, pottery and architectural remains. Many opus sectile floor tiles -that were installed in the Dome of the Rock and dismantled in later periods – were recovered in the sifting, enabling us to replicate the elaborate floor of the Dome of the Rock during the Crusaders’ times.

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Arrowheads from the Second Temple Period

For more information on our other finds, such as these arrowheads from the Second Temple Period, check out the  “What have you found so far?” section of our crowdfunding website for our first publication.