First Temple remains found on the Temple Mount

While digging a trench for electric cabling on the Temple Mount, see plan, a layer of apparently undisturbed material from the First Temple period was discovered. Fragments of bowl rims, bases and body sherds, the base of a juglet used for the ladling of oil, the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar, fragments of ceramic table wares and animal bones, dating from the Iron Age II ( the eighth to the seventh centuries BC) were found. This was first reported by the Israel Antiquities Authority and later in several places, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Todd Bolen’s BiblePlaces and other media.

This is exciting news, of course, as it indicates that the Temple Mount was occupied during the 8-6th century B.C. The place where it was found, near the south-east corner of the raised platform, is also highly significant. Archaeologists, such as Yuval Baruch, Sy Gittin and Ronnie Reich said that these finds may aid scholars in reconstructing the dimensions and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.

For the location of the find, see the blue dot on this plan:

plandot.jpg

According to my analysis, this area was located inside the pre-Herodian square Temple Mount, see this plan:

sqtmweb.jpg
The square Temple Mount is in yellow. Orange indicates the Hasmonean extension and Herod’s addition is in green.

In 1992 I published an article in Biblical Archaeology Review, Locating the Original Temple Mount, showing the location and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the Iron Age II period. It is well-known that Herod the Great doubled the size of the then-existing Temple Mount. According to Mishnah Middot, that Temple Mount was a square of 500 cubits. In my book The Quest, pp. 189-194, I have written that there are many reasons to suggest that this square mount was first built by King Hezekiah. Stones of the outer walls of this square mount can be seen at the north-west corner of the raised platform (the Step) and in the eastern Temple Mount wall near the Golden Gate. These architectural remains, of course, delineate the square Temple Mount and the new finds are a good indicator of the possible date of the construction of the square Temple Mount by King Hezekiah.

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9 Responses to First Temple remains found on the Temple Mount

  1. Zachi Zweig says:

    These finds should not be considered as in situ, since the pottery does not contain any pieces for restoration and no walls or floor level were discovered.
    This is probably a earth cluster that contained Iron Age IIB artifacts, which got mixed with the Herodian filling.

  2. Tony Lisenby says:

    I am somewhat confused about the current thought that this area is part of the Temple Mount rather than Fortress Antonia.
    Jesus said that not one stone would be left upon another, and that the whole complex would be leveled to the ground.
    Here the original walls are still standing as are many of the flagstone pavement blocks. I don’t think Jesus is a liar, so I don’t believe this is the location of the Temple site.
    The second to fifth century Jews worshipped in an area over and around the Gihon Spring, believing that is where the Temple stood.
    Can someone illumine me?
    Tony lisenby
    Montgomery, Alabama

  3. This is just a case of not reading carefully. What were the disciples showing Jesus? Not the Temple Mount with its retaining walls, but “the buildings of the temple” (Matthew 24.1). What are the “buildings of the Temple”? All the structures that were built on the Temple Mount. Of these structures, including the Temple itself, there is indeed not one stone left standing upon another.
    If the Temple Mount was the Antonia, why did the Romans destroy their own fortress? And how come that several inscriptions in Hebrew came from the Temple Mount, including the ‘trumpeting stone’ and ‘korban’, which means sacrifice. Did the Romans employ jews to blow their trumpets and did they offer Hebrew sacrifices in the Antonia? You see how ridiculous the idea that the Temple Mount equates the Antonia is.

  4. Moshe says:

    The Romans wanted to destroy eveything, but left the ruins of Antonia standing as a memory. Antonia was standing north of the Temple, right next to it. What, then, is strange about finding these inscriptions? How does this make anything ridiculous? We did not even touch the real place, currently occupied by the UN school for Arab girs. Besides, Antonia was an extension of a previously existing fort, HaBirah, which was Davka used as a place to keep things for the Mishkan. Herod used Antonia for the same purpose.

  5. Joel wollner says:

    Awaiting a post on the new first Temple remains including a vassel with a name found near the western wall.

  6. Remi says:

    They talking about some recent discoveries from an archaeological salvage excavation being carried out just west of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. What a great news!

  7. Doug says:

    The title of this page is disengenious. The claim is not that the finds were from the 1st Temple, but that they were Iron Age II (“First Temple Period”), and near the Temple Mount. I don’t see how this sheds any light on the issue of the location of the 1st Temple, which is at best a very enigmatic question.

  8. brianvt says:

    How could the Antonia tower as depicted house a legion of Roman soldiers? It seems too small…

  9. The Antonia Fortress had four towers and a wall enclosing the fortification. To its north was a large open area which also had a pool, the Strouthion Pool, see for example our CD Vol. 4: http://www.ritmeyer.com/online-store/cds/volume-4-the-archaeology-of-herods-temple-mount/and the poster of Jerusalem in 30 AD: http://www.ritmeyer.com/online-store/posters/jerusalem-in-30-ad/. The total area was large enough to accommodate the soldiers that were quartered in Jerusalem.

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