Report: New Finds from 1st & 2nd Temple Periods on Slope of Temple Mount

An upcoming report details new finds from as far back as the 10th-9th centuries B.C. in a salvage excavation on the eastern slope of the Temple Mount. Workers uncovered these pits along the Kidron Valley in 2009 and turned the excavation/processing over to the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

A briefing on the forthcoming report describes the following finds:

  • Pottery from Iron IIA and IIB, and the 2nd century B.C. through 1st century A.D. (Iron IIA is essentially David and Solomon in the biblical timeline. Iron IIB is most of the Divided Kingdom period)
  • Six clay bullae/sealings and one bone seal. Some were in Egyptian style and seemed to date to the 9th-8th centuries BCE. One bulla included the inscription “[גֺ]בעןֺ/לֺמלך”  (“Gibeon for the king”) and could be dated to the 8th or early 7th century BCE. The bulla is from a unique group called “fiscal bullae” which sealed tax commodities sent to the King of Judah. The bulla is discussed in depth in Gabriel Barkay’s article in this volume.
  • Fragments of jar handles with potter’s marks
  • Dozens of clay figurine fragments
  • A bone figurine fragment which represent a very high level carving of a man’s face.
  • A terracotta figurine fragment of an arm and a palm with a club. We presume this was probably a figurine of Hercules holding a club.

These finds span both 1st and 2nd Temple periods. Finds from Iron IIA indicate something significant was happening on the mountain in the biblical time of David/Solomon.

The appearance of pottery from the early phases of the Iron Age II was surprising due to the scarcity of such remains in Jerusalem, especially outside the City of David. The reason for such scarcity is that the vast majority of the archaeological finds usually come from destruction layers which mark the end of a period. For this reason finding pottery from all periods of the Iron Age II strengthens the assumption that we are dealing with a refuse aggregates and not regular occupation deposits…

One more interesting tidbit from the briefing about…

…a few biblical references that imply the existence of a garbage dump at Kidron valley near the Temple Mount (see 1 Kings 15:11-14; 2 Kings 23:4-12; 2 Chronicles 29:15; 2 Chronicles 30:14;  Jeremiah 31:40). These accounts and the existence of such a refuse pit near the stream of the Kidron Valley at its western bank and its special finds may indicate that the refuse in the pit we have recovered originates from the Temple Mount.

From PaleoJudaica, who received it from Joseph Lauer.

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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