JERUSALEM (January 5) - A carved marble lintel dug out of the Temple
Mount rubbish last year and identified as part of a gate to the Temple
itself has been tossed carelessly in the back yard of the Antiquities
Archeologist Zachi Zweig claimed the Antiquities Authority knows of its
importance, but that the archaeologist charged with reviewing the
reclaimed artifact is dragging his feet over releasing a report.
"This stone is the most important artifact ever recovered from the
Temple Mount. It is part of a stately gate and it very well could have
been from one of the entrances into the Temple itself or to another
sanctuary," Zweig told The Jerusalem Post.
According to Zweig, who is affiliated with the apolitical Committee for
the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, the
stone is the first archaeological evidence of monumental architecture in
the Temple Mount that can be positively dated to the Second Temple
The stone is about 75 cm. long and 50 cm. wide and has been resting in
the back yard of the Antiquities Authority headquarters in Jerusalem's
Rockefeller Museum for the past eight months.
Zweig blasted the Antiquities Authority yesterday for taking so long to
publish a report of the stone so that it may be used by scholars and
students when referring to the ancient Jewish temple. Without its
authentic publication, they will have to rely on hearsay.
Zweig said that there was no valid reason for the delay in publication
of a report, since it did not involve extensive identification, as is
common with an artifact found on site.
The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the great
The Antiquities Authority recovered the stone, along with a number of
other artifacts, last January after the Wakf dug under the Temple Mount
to create a new entrance to an underground mosque. The debris was dumped
in the nearby Kidron Valley.
Since no official archaeological dig has ever taken place at the Temple
Mount, these few items are the only remnants positively known to have
come from there.
Prof. Ronnie Reich, a former Jerusalem district chief archaeologist, has
compared the lintel's style to a similar style from the Second Temple
era, found in the Triple Gate at the southern wall of the Temple Mount
by the late Prof. B. Mazar, Zweig said.
Antiquities Authority Spokeswoman Osnat Gaoz said in reaction that the
preliminary report of the find would be published "soon" in
Hadashot Archaeology (Archaeology News).
Gaoz said that a final report would be published in Atiqot at the end of
the research, according to procedures of the Antiquities Authority. This
would take an extended period of time, she said, since the research is
still going on.
Gaoz dismissed calls for the artifacts from the Temple Mount to be given
priority over other finds in and that it had to come in its own turn.
"With all due respect, these finds are important, but I can't say
it is of primary importance. This dig is like all other digs... [it is]
more important than any other," Gaoz said.
Archaeologists have said that the finds had lost much of their
archaeological value, since they were not found in situ but after they
had been removed, sifted, and dumped. Their only true value is their
origin inside the Temple Mount.
Gaoz said the Antiquities Authority never hid the fact that the marble
stone was found and actually announced back in February that it appears
to be from the Second Temple period. But, she said, even if it was, no
one could say where it actually stood or what it was used for.
(End of Article)
The Temple Institute adds: