First Temple-era seal discovered
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
A First-Temple period seal has been discovered amidst piles of rubble from Jerusalem's Temple Mount, an Israeli archaeologist said Tuesday, in what could prove to be an historic find.
The small - less than 1 cm - seal impression, or bulla, discovered Tuesday by Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay amidst piles of rubble from the Temple Mount would mark the first time that an written artifact was found from the Temple Mount dating back to the First Temple period.
The 2,600 year old artifact, with three lines in
ancient Hebrew, was discovered amidst piles of rubble discarded by the Islamic Wakf that Barkay and a team of young archaeologists and
volunteers are sifting
through on the grounds of a
The seal, which predates the destruction of the
First Jewish temple in 586 BCE, was presented Tuesday night to the press at an
archaeological conference at the City of
Barkay said that the find was the first of its kind from the time of King David.
He has not yet determined what the writing is on the seal, although three Hebrew letters -- thought to be the name of its owner -- are visible on one of its line.
The seal was found amidst thousands of tons of
rubble discarded by Wakf officials at city garbage
dumps six years ago, following the Islamic Trust's unilateral construction of an mosque at an underground compound of the
After the Antiquities Authority voiced disinterest in thoroughly sifting through the rubble discarded by the Wakf, Barkay applied -- and eventually received ľa license from the Antiquities Authority to sort through the piles of earth thrown into the garbage dump in search of antiquities, and has since found scores of history-rich artifacts, from the First Temple Period until today amidst the rubble, including a large amount of pottery dating from the Bronze Ages through modern times, a large segment of a marble pillar's shaft, and over 100 ancient coins, among them several from the Hasmonean Dynasty.
While inexact, the ongoing sifting project, which
is now being sponsored by Elad, has being called virtually unprecedented since
archaeological excavation has never been permitted on the
Meanwhile, in a separate major archaeological
The site is part of a new state-of-the-art tourist center at the Western Wall tunnels, which will be open to the public in two months' time.
The impressive site, which incorporates ancient and modern Jewish history in an attempt to reach out to Israeli youth, includes an elaborate audiovisual show, and nine magnificent glass sculptures, which serve to highlight both recent discoveries of artifacts and infrastructure dating back thousands of years, including one of the world's oldest aqueducts, as well as modern day Jewish history, such as the Holocaust and Israel's fallen soldiers.