Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sifting Through Jewish History...



Today, I was privileged to be able to take part in bringing Jewish history to life. I took part in the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation. (For a complete history of this important operation, click here).
In November 1999, the Islamic Wakf carried out an illegal construction project on the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. The unsupervised digging caused irreparable damage to the important site, as well as to untold priceless artifacts contained in rubble removed during the construction and dumped clandestinely in the Kidron Valley.

Though the archaeological remains were no longer in their original contexts, they held enormous potential to shed light on the undocumented human history of the Temple Mount, as systematic archaeological excavation or scientific study have never taken place there. The mounds of dirt in the Kidron Valley therefore contained the only available data from the Temple Mount to which modern archaeologists have ever had access.

During the illegal excavations and dumping on and from the Temple Mount, the police and the government Antiquities Authority refused to interfere, citing concerns of violence by Muslims who deny that Temples ever stood on the Temple Mount. Tzachi Zweig, then an archaeology student, called a press conference to publicize the extent of the archaeological havoc being perpetrated. Zweig caused a stir in the media by displaying an assortment of artifacts that he had easily scooped out of the piles...

Because such a sensitive excavation of material had never before taken place, and because the material had been purposely mixed with garbage and other matter, Zweig and Barkai had a difficult time estimating how much time the excavation would take. Despite six months of work, to date only 15% of the rubble has been examined.

Recently, a disccovery of epic proportions was uncovered through this operation.

To see pictures from my visit to the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation, click here.

For anyone who is interested in taking part in this important project (ideal for groups / individuals, tourists / Israelis alike), volunteers are needed and are welcome for long or short term volunteering on a daily basis. The project is taking place near the Mount of Olives, and is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

If you are interested, feel free to e-mail me (orny35@yahoo.com), and I will put you in touch with someone who can give you more detailed info.




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