Biblical Archaeology Review 37:2, March/April 2011

The Temple Mount Sifting Project

Gaby Barkay and Zachi Zweig have gone into business. Bring your excavated dirt to them for “wet sifting” and they will take care of it for you. Business is good.

Gaby (actually Gabriel) is one of the most prominent archaeologists in Jerusalem. Zachi, now his colleague, was his student at Bar-Ilan University.

It all started when the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had Zachi arrested. The Muslim religious authority known as the Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount, had dug an enormous hole on the Temple platform to create a monumental staircase leading down to the area known as Solomon’s Stables in order to turn it into a mosque. During this operation, the Waqf dumped hundreds of truckloads of unscientifically (and illegally) excavated earth into the adjacent Kidron Valley. Zachi was caught rummaging around in this mound of earth to see if it contained anything archaeologically valuable. According to the IAA, he was illegally excavating without a permit.

Zachi was soon released, and his teacher Gaby obtained a permit from the IAA to “excavate” this artificial mound of earth that had been simply dumped there.

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