Temple Mount Destruction
Follow-Up Visit to the Temple Mount
Digging Up the Temple Mount—A Report from the Fifth Day
This morning we conducted another tour along the trench on the Temple Mount; we were joined by archaeologists Eilat Mazar and Yiftah Shalev. We observed that the trench had reached a length of more than 1600 feet and that it extends all the way to the Al-Aqsa mosque (see map below).
At the spot where the trench ended in our previous tour, at the southeastern corner of the terrace south to the raised platform that holds the Dome of the Rock, the trench turns south and reaches the northern line of the Al-Aqsa mosque; at that point it turns west to the mosque (fig. 1).
In the middle of the southern flank of the trench, about 60 feet from the Al-Aqsa mosque, an ancient pavement was exposed 20 inches below the current platform level (fig. 2). In the north cross-section of the trench at this point a thin bright textured layer could be seen laying above the pavement, which probably represents earth accumulation upon the pavement after it went out of use.
It seems that this architectural element was saved thanks to archaeological supervision over the trench dig. It is not clear how the archaeological supervisor treated the earth accumulation above the pavement, and whether it was examined. We may assume that part of this pavement was damaged by the bulldozer used to dig the trench before it was stopped by the supervisor. This type of archaeological remains is of the kind that can be saved by supervision over a dig being conducted by heavy machinery; elements such as the remains of the wall mentioned in the previous report, on the other hand, can be saved and studied only by a manual dig that examines the cross-sections carefully during the progress of the dig, saves elements large and small, and documents the finds.
In the southernmost part of the trench’s eastern flank, a few building stones (including some ashlars) could be seen in the cross-section; they may be remnants of a wall (figs. 3-4). At the northern part of this flank, it seems the tractor could not dig too deep because it encountered bedrock (fig. 5 a and b.). We did not previously know that at this area bedrock is so near the surface, although it fits well with the fact that nearby, at the bottom of the southern wall of the terrace south to the raised Dome of the Rock platform, bedrock is exposed as the step protruding the terrace wall (see previous report).
We continued further north over the remnants of the wall seen the day before. We examined it again and concluded that it is most probable a remnant of an ancient wall that was distorted by the bulldozer. It exact location is about 33 feet south of the eastern stairs of the raised platform.
North of this wall we noticed a very unique stone that was covered by debris from the trench dig (fig. 6). It is cut in a style typical of Herodian architecture (the late Second Temple period) and its face was carved in a way that suggests it was an architrave of a unique structure. On the back it has an angular depression that is similar to Byzantine threshold stones. This may be a result of a secondary cutting or it may be an unknown style from the Second Temple period. The angular depression edge has an additional slight concave depression that may be a kind of channel for drainage.
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