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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quarry from which Temple Mount stones were taken found

An excavation to build a girls' high school in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem has uncovered a quarry that archaeologists believe was the source of the stones used to build the base of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Pictures of the quarry are posted here.
The Antiquities Authority announced today that it has found the quarry that supplied the giant stones for the building of the Temple Mount. The quarry is located in what is now one of Jerusalem's newest neighborhoods, Ramat Shlomo (also known as Reches Shuafat), between Ramot and French Hill. The quarry was found in the course of an archaeological rescue dig prior to the construction of a neighborhood school.

The ancient quarry is spread out over at least five dunams (1.25 acres), with rocks up between three and eight meters long - the size of those that can still be seen today at the foundations of the Temple Mount and in the Western Wall - hewn out of the ground.


Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky has ordered a halt to the school-building plans, budgeting 350,000 shekels ($86,500) for the archaeological work.

Jerusalem archaeologist Yuval Baruch told Arutz-7 that the ancient hewing was done in stages. First, deep and narrow trenches were dug around the four sides of what was to be the rock. Then, dozens of small picks were used to make holes underneath, at a distance of several centimeters from each other, until the rock was able to be separated from the ground. Archaeologists found one such pick in the area - a 15-centimeter (6-inch) long metal object.

Gideon Charlap, a top Jerusalem architect and Temple Mount expert, told Arutz-7 that while rocks for the Temple may not be hewn with iron on the Temple Mount, iron may be used on the rocks before they reach the Mount. This, as opposed to stones used for the Temple's altar, which are never permitted to be hewn with iron.

The rulers of ancient Jerusalem used top-quality, beautiful stone for their public buildings, of the type they called Malcha (from the word for royalty). Dozens of quarries have been discovered in and around Jerusalem over the years, Baruch said, "including some from the period of Herod, like this one. However, never before has one been found with such large rocks."

The Shuafat mountain is some 80 meters higher than the Temple Mount. That, and its proximity to the main road to Jerusalem from the north made this quarry a prime candidate to provide the rocks to be used in the city's important buildings. Teams of oxen pulled the giant stones down the moderate incline towards the city. The rocks were then placed upon the bedrock, forming the foundation of the Temple Mount, and keeping it stable and firm without the use of concrete even up until today.

Coins and pottery were also found in the quarry, dating back 1,900 years - further evidence that this quarry was used during the height of construction in ancient Jerusalem.
I happen to know where this quarry is. Once it's light out in the morning, I hope to try to get some pictures for you. Here's one picture I took during the salvage dig, but it doesn't show the stones in question as well as they are now shown. I'll try to get more pictures in the morning.


At 12:24 AM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

One question I have that I hope maybe somebody could help me with.

Scripture records that the Lord ordered for all the stones on the Temple Mount (and the same for other altars elsewhere, if my memory is correct) that the stones be untouched by iron tools.

I'm really mystified and intrigued as to the significance of the stones not being worked on with iron tools. Can anyone offer any explanation or comment on this?

At 1:07 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Weapons are made out of iron. The idea was not to use something that was to used to make war, for the altar, which brought peace to the world.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Dave - the original Arutz-7 article that Car linked to explains that stones for the ALTARS may not be touched by iron at all, while stones for the TEMPLE building may not be hewn with iron WHILE ON THE MOUNT - but iron may be used before they reach the Mount.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Well, thanks Carl and Joe for that information. :-)


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