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View of old city of Jerusalem with Al Aksa Mosque in the middle.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Pottery shards found by archeologist Yuval Baruch dating to the time of King Solomon’s Temple.

PA 'study' refutes Jewish claim to Western Wall

Denies Historical and Archeological Evidence: What about the discovery by Archeologist Yuval Baruch?

By Rhonda Spivak, February 2, 2011

Less than two months ago, in December 2010, a senior official with the  Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of  Information in Ramallah  Al-Mutawakel Taha, posted a report on the  PA website, which attempted to  “refute” Jews’ claims to the Western Wall.

The Western Wall belongs to Muslims and is an integral part of Al-Aksa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif, according to this official paper.

The new document claimed  that the Western Wall, ( or Al- Buraq Wall, as it is known to Muslims), constitutes property of the  Muslim religious authority , the Wakf, and is owned by an Algerian- Moroccan Muslim family.

It claimed there isn’t one stone in the wall that belongs to the era of King Solomon.

“The Zionist occupation falsely and unjustly claims that it owns this wall, which it calls the Western Wall or Kotel,” Taha, wrote in his project.

“Al-Buraq Wall is in fact the western wall of Al-Aksa Mosque.”

The author, who is affiliated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, added in the paper, that “Many studies published by Jewish experts have affirmed that there is no archeological evidence that the Temple Mount was built during the period of King Solomon.”

While there are  many ridiculous claims in this paper, it has reminded me of an article I wrote in  the Canadian Jewish  News in  April 2008, about archeological evidence pointing to  the existence of a Jewish Temple in the time of  King Solomon.

In an article titled “Archeologist finds artifacts from time of Solomon’s’ Temple, I interviewed Yuval Baruch who made archeological history in October 2007 when he uncovered pottery artifacts on the site of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. They are considered to be the first physical evidence of human activity during the time of King Solomon’s Temple (the First Jewish Temple).

Baruch, who is Jerusalem’s district archeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, outlined his world-famous discovery as part of a lecture series put on by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.
The Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, is where Jews believe Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac at God’s behest. It is now covered by Islam’s Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Baruch said the artifacts he found  shed new light on what is hidden beneath the Muslim mosques.
“The Muslim Waqf [the Muslim religious authority that controls the internal administration of the Temple Mount] does not allow Israeli archeologists to conduct any excavations on the site. But I got access to a small tunnel where electrical cables run under the site when there was an electrical shortage and the Waqf had to get the electricity fixed… “I was not supposed to be left there alone, as the Waqf always has someone present when Israeli archeologists are on the site. It was in the evening after 8 p.m., and by chance the Arab electrical workers left me and a member of my staff for about 15 minutes while they went to pray. When I was alone in that brief time, I found the pottery shards among dust near the bedrock level,” he said.

The tunnel to which Baruch got access, was a sealed archeological level – “about 400 metres long,” he says – that was exposed during the inspection in the area close to the southeastern corner of the raised platform surrounding the Dome of the Rock.

Baruch’s findings included animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases and body shards; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar. In addition, a piece of a whitewashed, handmade object was found. It may have been used to decorate a larger object or may have been the leg of an animal figurine. The finds are dated from eight-to six-century BCE.

Baruch said that the artifacts have been dated to the First Temple Period because of their “shape, materials, colours, and the technique for making the pottery.” In particular, the bowl shards were decorated with wheel burnishing lines characteristic of the First Temple Period.
Baruch and Sy Gitin, director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; Ronny Reich of Haifa University; and Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University have concluded that the finds might help reconstruct the dimensions and boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.

Baruch said the archeological finds indicate the presence of people on the site of the Temple Mount during late eighth-century and seventh-century B.C., which is consistent with Jewish biblical claims.
This was the first time that archeologists found artifacts that have not been disturbed in later periods.

“The reaction of the Muslim authority [the Waqf] was to ignore the finds,” he addsed which he said was not surprising since over the years the Waqf has tried to undermine Jewish historical ties to the site.

“The Waqf’s official position is that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount", he said

He noted that Muslims believe the Temple Mount is where Abraham almost sacrificed Ishmael, not Isaac, at God’s behest.
Since 1967, Israel has left internal administration of the compound to the Waqf, while Israeli police have taken responsibility for overall security.

Baruch also said that the reports circulated by the Waqf in March 2008 that the Temple Mount was damaged when an earthquake shook Israel are not true. “There was an earthquake [measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale] but it’s not true that there was any damage from it on the site,” he said.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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