Monday, September 24, 2007

Archeology - not an exact science

This is cross posted from

It has bothered me for some time that we have virtually no archeological evidence for any of the stories in the Torah or Nach.

Many years ago I remember a cover article in Time magazine which used this lack of evidence to 'prove' whether or not the Exodus ever happened.

Why can't we find any of the altars that Avraham built? Where are the wells dug by Yitzchak? Why can't we find the rock that Yaakov slept on, or the gal-ed that he set up to mark the border between himself and Lavan? Where is the evidence that the Israelites lived in Egypt for a few hundred years? etc. etc.

Today's news put this in context for me. For years people have tried to figure out where the stones that were used to build the Temple were hewn from. I remember each tour guide had a different theory as to how far these rocks must have traveled to come to Jerusalem.

Now we know the answer. This just in from Israel National News.

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 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.

Remember how big those stones are! This is a quarry covering one and a quarter acres! That is a big piece of land, with a BIG hole in it. Yet for decades nobody has discovered this archeological site. And even now, it was only discovered by chance when they were trying to build a school.

Perhaps I could have understood not finding this if it was in some remote and unlikely location. But look at this:

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.

Let me say that again: This quarry is a prime candidate to provide the rocks!!!

They have only just found an enormous archaeological find, in one of the most obvious places to find it, by a fluke of good luck!

In that case, what chance to archaeologists have of finding the toothpicks that Avraham used when serving his angel guests hors d'oeuvres? Should we be bothered that we can't find the barbeques that the Israelites used at the foot of Mount Sinai? Don't hold your breath for any of the altars or rocks or wells from the time of our patriarchs.

(Of course all of this makes it even more criminal that our elected government is letting the Wakf destroy all archaeological evidence from the actual Temple Mount itself!)

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