In 1999, an illegal excavation was carried out on the Temple Mount by the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement and the Waqf. The excavation, officially intended to create an entrance to a new underground mosque, was carried out quickly and destructively in order to prevent the revelation of historical remains. During the work, ancient structures were destroyed and 9000 tons of earth saturated with archaeological artifacts were loaded onto trucks and dumped in the Kidron Valley. This is the largest archaeological destruction ever carried out in Israel, and it took place at the most central site in Israel's history: the Temple Mount.
This illegal and reprehensible excavation work was carried out without interference from the police and the government of Israel. Even the unified outcry from all sides of Israel’s political spectrum did not prompt the government to take decisive action against this destructive excavation.
Zachi Dvira, an archaeology student, along with friends, carried out a preliminary survey of the debris that had been thrown out. Many archaeological finds were recovered in this survey, including artifacts from the time of the First Temple and the Second Temple. Yet, the actions of Zachi and his team met with objections from the authorities. Senior archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay joined forces with Zachi, and together they overcame the obstacles imposed by the authorities. In 2004, they finally received the license to reclaim the Temple Mount debris. They established the Temple Mount Sifting Project to sift through this material in a controlled manner by a team of archaeologists and interested volunteers from around the world.
Your donation will fund highly trained researchers and the scientific analysis of artifacts found in the sifting. This includes cataloguing finds, artifacts comparison, and doing advanced statistical analysis to better understand the context of our artifacts.
Our current goal is to fully fund our research lab in 2017 so that we can complete current research on special finds, coins, and pottery and stay on track for our publication deadline in 2019.
Among other things, our research includes the reconstruction of the floors of the Second Temple court, the dating of Temple Mount artifacts to the 10th century BCE that contradicts the minimalist dating of the First Temple Period, the discovery of buildings on the Temple Mount during the Byzantine period and a better understanding of the daily lives of people on the Temple Mount in all periods throughout the site’s 3000 year history.
Through us, you can ensure that facts, reality, and the heritage of all people who connect with the Temple Mount are protected and shared. Ignorance feeds conflict and dispute, while knowledge helps us better understand our common past.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project’s finds represent the first-ever archaeological data originating from within the Temple Mount. Our research has the ability to challenge theories, clarify understandings, and present the factual data about the history of the Temple Mount. We hope to encourage educated discussion on the history of the Temple Mount.
We can undermine the Temple Denial movement; but only if our facts and research are shared with the scientific community and the public. As a member of the global community, it is your responsibility to preserve this heritage. This is your chance to take part in revealing Jerusalem’s ancient past and ensure that the heritage of all people who feel connected to the Temple Mount are protected and shared.
We chose to hold this crowd-funding campaign without extravagant gifts. We believe that the discovery of the true history of Temple Mount is the greatest reward we could provide to the public around the world and we aim to share our findings with the scientific community and you the public as soon as we can fund our publications.
An introduction video for Sifting Project from 2014
To learn more about the Temple Mount Sifting Project and read some of our preliminary publications, please visit our blog.