First Temple Excavation

Recent news from the Israel Antiquities Authority has people buzzing. Remains of buildings from the First Temple period have been uncovered in Jerusalem and there are some interesting implications. In a location west of the Temple Mount excavators have worked through several historic layers to finally come to these ancient remains. 

The ruins date from the 800-600BC era, before the destruction of the First Temple, and have been preserved from plunderers since the Roman period, because of construction directly over the remains. The heavy limestone pavers encased the ruins, sealing them to be revealed 2,000 years later – echoes of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The site is about 100 metres west of the Temple Mount on the eastern slopes of the Upper City. Building walls are preserved  to over 2 metres high. Remains are characteristic of the Kingdom of Judah in the latter part of the First Temple period. 

So much for the archaeological summary – now to the significance. There is keen reaction from those who are incensed by Moslem revisionist efforts to suggest that the First Temple did not exist and that the Jews do not have a claim to the Temple Mount site. The recent finds support the Jewish presence on the site and seal the Israelite claim to the city. In another twist it has also been suggested that it may be possible to re-build the temple on this adjoining location, thus avoiding the problems presented by the mosque currently on the traditional site of the First Temple. 

For those with an interest in things archaeological here are some further tid-bits: The city of Jerusalem has had a long history and been affected by multiple constructions on previous ruins. The Christian Byzantine era provides a 6th Century map of Jerusalem which features the Roman Road, named the Eastern Cardo, part of which has been removed to reveal these fresh finds. That map, a mosaic design excavated in Madaba in Jordan, shows a city that exists with no regard for the Temple Mount, which at that time was a ruin. Several churches were identified – since the Christian locations were of more significance than the expired Temple.  

Note also that the ancient Temple site has become an icon to many. The Moslem world occupies it. Some Jews want it back and worship it. [consider these comment from Jews who learned of the recent excavations: “The temple mount is the holiest place on earth.” “The Third Temple will be built sometime over the next 41 years…”] Many Christians see the need for a new temple on the site, in preparation for Christ’s return.

Removal of the mosque from the site thus becomes an issue for some. Note the sentiment of this posting in response to the news: “Take it back now!!! ALL ARABS OUT!! BOMB THE DOME!!” Unholy passions run high around the Holy Land.