The unauthorized dig of a trench this past summer by the Moslem Waqf on the Temple Mount had a thin silver lining: Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) personnel monitoring the trench-digging have, for the first time, found traces of the First Temple.
It was assumed that precious findings were destroyed,
The IAA studied an archaeological level dating to the First Temple Period, exposed in the area close to the south-eastern corner of the raised platform surrounding the Dome of the Rock.
Jerusalem District Archaeologist Yuval Baruch uncovered fragments of ceramic table wares, animal bones, and more. The finds date from the 8th to 6th centuries BCE; the First Temple existed between the 9th and 5th centuries BCE, having been built by King Solomon in 832 and destroyed in 422 BCE.
The archaeological team - Baruch of the IAA, Prof. Sy Gitin, Director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, Prof. Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University and Prof. Ronny Reich of Haifa University - reached the conclusion, after examining the finds, that their characteristics and location may aid scholars in reconstructing the dimensions and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.
The finds include 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. The bowl sherds were decorated with wheel burnishing lines characteristic of the First Temple Period.
The IAA announced that it will hold an archaeological seminar concerning these finds and their archaeological interpretation at a later date.
Muslim and Jewish Claims
Muslim scholars and leaders often deny any Jewish claim to the Temple Mount. It is often charged that Arab landworks there are employed for throwing out truckloads of artifacts that would prove otherwise.
Moslem claims to the Temple Mount, on the other hand, have been debunked even by other Moslems. A commentator for the official Egyptian government weekly, of all places, has written that the entire Moslem claim on Jerusalem and the El-Aksa mosque is based on a mistaken reading of one chapter of the Quran. Ahmed Mahmad Oufa wrote that the verse that mentions a night journey by Muhammed to a mosque has nothing to do with Jerusalem, as is generally claimed, but with a mosque near the holy Moslem city of Medina.
Prof. Moshe Sharon, Middle Eastern expert in the Hebrew University, expressed great surprise at the fact that such an article would be published in Arabic and in an Arabic-speaking country. He told Arutz-7 at the time,
"All in all, this is not a new claim. We must remember that Jerusalem is not mentioned at all in the Quran [though it is mentioned hundreds of time in the Bible - ed. note]. The verse in question is in Sura [chapter] 17, which states that Muhammad was brought at night from one mosque to a 'more distant' - aktsa, in Arabic - mosque. The first Moslem commentators did not explain this as referring to Jerusalem at all, but rather as a miraculous night journey or vision. In the beginning of the 8th century, however, they began associating this with Jerusalem, because they had a need to start giving sanctity to Jerusalem, and so they started connecting this verse with Jerusalem... Originally, however, the Moslems recognized the area of the Dome of the Rock as holy because of the Jewish Temple of King Solomon."