Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Temple Mount treasures

The JPost is reporting that a relatively rare seal dating back to the time of the first Temple, with writing yet to be deciphered, has been found in Jerusalem. It's importance lies in that it comes from the Temple Mount complex -- indeed, it was found in the pile of rubble from Temple Mount thrown out by the Waqf six years ago while building in Solomon's Stables. At the time, their overt disregard for archeaological procedure and for what treasures might be hidden in the ground they were dislodging was taken as one more attempt to erase the physical connection between the Jews, temple mount and the land of Israel.
Why did it take 6 years? Because the IAA inspected the material and declared it of no archaeological value, didn't want to look into it, and didn't want anyone else looking into it either. The seal was found by a Bar Ilan archaeologist working with a group who believed otherwise, and who believed that the IAA's decision was politically motivated.
Now who's proven right? And who knows what other archaeological treasures are in that pile -- and what other prices pieces of our history are being obliterated by the Waqf while Israel sits on its hands and watches?

UPDATE: A reader, who knows about these things sends an interesting explanation of what the item found actually is:
It's a tiny piece of tin that was used to mark official documents stored in archives and the Biblical-era equivalent of filing cabinets. The papyrus scrolls were rolled, tiedwith a string, and then a little piece of tin was affixed to the scroll.The tin was pressed with a seal from the government official involved. So it might just say "Clerk #4" or it might say someone really importantif the document was important. Over the centuries, the scrolls and the string degrade, but the bullas stick around. They're incredibly sturdy and thousands of them have been found all over Israel. First Temple period and prior is difficult because it's pre-coin period - so archaeologists are reliant on ceramics (pottery), stone (carved stuff on buildings), etc. It's stuff that's fairly destructible (though ceramicfragments are surprisingly hardy). What
Barkay [the archaeologist] is doing is so important-- and it would be wonderful if he finds more stuff.

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