Rick Gladstone wrote an article in yesterday’s New York Times, called “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place”, in which he asserts that neither the location of the First and Second Temples can be determined:
The question, which many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered, is whether the 37-acre site, home to Islam’s sacred Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque, was also the precise location of two ancient Jewish temples, one built on the remains of the other, and both long since gone.
He apparently hasn’t contacted the right people and/or read the right books. He quotes Matthew J. Adams, Dorot director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, as saying “This is a very politically loaded subject” and “It’s also an academically complex question.”
Gladstone had to admit that Rivka Gonen, in her book “Contested Holiness: Jewish, Muslim and Christian Perspectives on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” wrote that the reference in the Biblical text [to Mount Moriah, the location of Solomon’s Temple] “has been widely interpreted to mean the high point on the hill above the City of David — the rock now under the Dome of the Rock.”
Some historians have said that independent scientific verification of such a reference is problematic. But then, it depends on who you go to for clarification.
Many archaeologists agree that the religious body of evidence, corroborated by other historical accounts and artifacts that have been recovered from the site or nearby, supports the narrative that the Dome of the Rock was built on or close to the place where the Jewish temples once stood.
As Yisrael Medad pointed out in his blog, “Gaby Barkay and Tzachi Dvira are missing. Eilat Mazar is missing. Dan Bahat, too.” These are archaeologists that are actively working in Jerusalem and familiar with the archaeological evidence. My own work on the Temple Mount is also ignored because my conclusions about the location of Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples are based on observation only and not on archaeological evidence, although it is directly derived from it.
So, ignorance is bliss, as it allows one to play a safe political card, with academics such as Kent Bramlett, concluding: “I think one has to be careful about saying it stood where the Dome of the Rock stood.”
It is sad indeed when biblical scholars and even archaeologists are afraid to speak out on important issues such as the location of the Temple in Jerusalem because of the political tensions in Jerusalem concerning the Temple Mount.