Solomon's Temple Artifacts Found by Muslim Workers

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These unique findings could shed new light on what is hidden beneath Israel's most mysterious archaeological site, the archaeologists say.

"This is the first time we have shards from the Temple Mount with a [uniform] date," Haifa University's Reich told National Geographic News.

The find "most certainly" indicates the presence of people in the temple during the late eighth century and seventh century B.C., he said.

"From an archaeological standpoint, this is the first time this has happened," Reich said.

"You can say that this was written in the Bible—but the Bible is a text and texts can be played around with. This is physical evidence."

Crude Excavations

Gideon Avni is IAA's excavations and surveys department director.

"This is the first time we have found artifacts that have not been disturbed by later periods," Avni said.

But he doesn't believe this will help pinpoint the location of the First Temple on the mount.

Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer, who discovered King Herod's tomb earlier this year, was highly critical of the Temple Mount work.

"In such a special place, [the Waqf] should have conducted an organized and proper excavation. But this was done with bulldozers and mechanical tools," Netzer said.

"Digging of this sort can cause damage."

The Temple Mount was Jordanian territory until the 1967 war, when Israel conquered Jerusalem's Old City. Israel left internal administration of the compound to the Waqf, while Israeli police took responsibility for overall security.

"The Waqf is conducting work on the Temple Mount supervised by Israeli police and the IAA," Avni said.

"There are all sorts of political understandings that led to this arrangement."

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