What to do in Israel | The Temple Mount Sifting Project

In 1999, Wakf bulldozers illegally ascended the Temple Mount and surreptitiously removed 9,000 tons of ancient soil, laden with countless invaluable artifacts, without proper archaeological care, and dumped close to 400 truckloads of it all as “garbage” in the Kidron Valley.

Two archaeologists realised that this dumped soil is a potential treasure-trove of archaeological information about the Temple Mount. In 2004, they founded the Temple Mount Sifting Project which has grown into the world’s largest communal antiquities salvage effort, attracting hundreds of thousands of volunteers and tourists from across the globe, and unearthing over half a million valuable finds.

Temple Mount Sifting Project Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Ana al’ain Wikimedia Commons

Every bucket of earth that is sifted contains fragments of pottery, glass vessels, metal objects, bones, worked stones and mosaic tesserae stones, spanning from the First Temple period to the present. Every stone has a historical meaning and background. They might have been used in the Temple, in the streets of ancient Jerusalem, the same stones that probably kings and prophets had walked on.

“For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.” Psalms 102:14, NIV

Temple Mount Sifting Project
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Ana al’ain Wikimedia Commons

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is a splendid way to experience the work of an archaeologist while helping find artifacts that continue to shape the understanding of the history of this ancient and holy place. The opportunity to search through piles of history is surreal. Every bucket is filled with potential and the anticipation of what will be found is exciting for every participant. Each find made is exhilarating, whether small or large. For the geologists and archaeologists, the hard work of cataloguing is just beginning. For the tourists, it is fun, educational, and relaxing – dump each bucket onto a wood-framed screen mounted on plastic stands, rinse off any soil with water from a garden hose, and then pluck out anything of potential importance. A great way to spend an hour or two!

Temple Mount Sifting Project

Temple Mount Sifting Project

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