A project to search for archaeological artifacts in soil removed from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in the 1990s will continue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Wednesday, saying it had secured funding to keep it afloat.That sounds like good news. But the Temple Mount Sifting Project has issued the following statement (on its blog and elsewhere), which clarifies the background and the current situation somewhat: Press Release: A solution has still not been found for resuming the sifting of the Temple Mount soil. Excerpt:
On Monday, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, headed by archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, announced it was on the verge of closure because the Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, which had financed it for 12 years, was pulling its funding.
“The Ir David Foundation, headed by David Be’eri, will continue to fund the important project,” the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday.
In a statement, the PMO said Be’eri and the director general of the Israel Antiquities Authority would meet in the coming days with the people involved with the project.
We value the Prime Minister’s efforts to resolve the issue, and thank the Ir-David foundation for their long collaboration with our project. However, the scientific research is separate from the touristic activity which was, until recently, run by the Ir-David Foundation. The sifting and research are licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and directed by Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira under the auspices Bar-Ilan’s University’s Institute of Archaeology. The research is funded by the “Israel Archaeology Foundation” which promotes archaeological research. Funding the research of the Temple Mount finds must by managed by an organization whose primary impetus is scientific rather than focused primarily on tourism.Their bold-font emphasis. Read it all. The Ir-David foundation is also know as "Elad," on which more here and links. Background on the current funding issues for the Temple Mount Sifting Project is here.
The overlap between the touristic activity and the scientific-archaeological research caused ruptures between the Temple Mount Sifting Project directors and the Ir-David foundation, leading the Ir-David Foundation to halt the funding for the sifting activity two weeks ago. Consequently, we concluded that it is best not to renew the sifting before securing the full funding for the research of the artifacts already found by the project.
I very much hope that the project finds the funding necessary to continue its work to its conclusion.