Friday, August 31, 2007

Uncovered: Ancient Wall of Second Temple

Construction work at the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem has uncovered what is likely the ancient remains of a wall from the Jewish Second Temple.

The construction, an Islamic project approved by Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the state-run Antiquities Authority, is also digging up ancient hostilities.

Reports the Jerusalem Post:
"The Israeli Government is lending a hand to the destruction of one of the most important archaeological sites in the world," said Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkai at a Jerusalem press conference.

Barkai said the dig, which involves tractors and other heavy construction equipment (see pictures here and also here), has created a 400-meter-long and 1.5-meter-deep trench [1300 feet long and 5 foot deep] on the site, destroying layers of ancient remains.
Barkai, an Israeli archaeologists from the nonpartisan Committee Against the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, said it was unthinkable that the Israeli government would permit such destruction and pleaded for the construction to stop immediately, explaining:
"This is the first time in the history of archaeological excavation in Israel that we have remains that could have been part of the courts of the Temple itself."
Meantime, Jewish responders at the Post's story are upset. Writes one:
"The Arabs are destroying its remnants, erasing any traces of any faith besides there own. The antiquities department under the leadership of the left wing lemmings are poor custodians for all that is holy."
Built by Herod in the early first century, the Second Temple replaced Solomon's Temple and stood during the time of Jesus. It was later destroyed by the Romans in 70AD, about 37 years after Jesus' ascension. Today, the Temple Mount is Islam's third most holiest site and host of the Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine.

Stay tuned.

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