Wednesday, April 02, 2008

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Archaeologist Yuval Baruch tells the inside story about how those Iron Age II artifacts were recovered last October from the Waqf's excavation.
Archeologist finds artifacts from time of Solomon’s Temple
By RHONDA SPIVAK, Special to The CJN [Canadian Jewish News]
Thursday, 03 April 2008
WINNIPEG — Yuval Baruch, left, made archeological history in October 2007 when he uncovered pottery artifacts on the site of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. They are considered to be the first physical evidence of human activity during the time of King Solomon’s Temple (the First Jewish Temple).

Baruch, who is Jerusalem’s district archeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, speaking at the Berney Theatre here, outlined his world-famous discovery as part of a lecture series put on by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.


“The Muslim Waqf [the Muslim religious authority that controls the internal administration of the Temple Mount] does not allow Israeli archeologists to conduct any excavations on the site. But I got access to a small tunnel where electrical cables run under the site when there was an electrical shortage and the Waqf had to get the electricity fixed…

“I was not supposed to be left there alone, as the Waqf always has someone present when Israeli archeologists are on the site. It was in the evening after 8 p.m., and by chance the Arab electrical workers left me and a member of my staff for about 15 minutes while they went to pray. When I was alone in that brief time, I found the pottery shards among dust near the bedrock level,” he says.

The tunnel to which Baruch got access, was a sealed archeological level – “about 400 metres long,” he says – that was exposed during the inspection in the area close to the southeastern corner of the raised platform surrounding the Dome of the Rock.

Baruch’s findings include animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases and body shards; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar. In addition, a piece of a whitewashed, handmade object was found. It may have been used to decorate a larger object or may have been the leg of an animal figurine. The finds are dated from eight-to six-century BCE.

Background here and here.