Monday, September 24, 2007

Breaking news Report: Herod's Temple quarry found
Israeli archaeologists said they have discovered a quarry that provided King Herod with the stones he used to renovate the biblical Second Temple compound — offering rare insight into construction of the holiest site in Judaism.

The source of the huge stones used 2,000 years ago to reconstruct the compound in Jerusalem's Old City was discovered on the site of a proposed school in a Jerusalem suburb.

. . .

"This is the first time stones which were used to build the Temple Mount walls were found," said Yuval Baruch, an archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority involved in the dig.

Which is neat. I found this of interest as well:
But researchers said the strongest piece of evidence was found wedged into one of the massive cuts in the white limestone — an iron stake used to split the stone. The tool was apparently improperly used, accidentally lodged in the stone and forgotten.

"It stayed here for 2,000 years for us to find because a worker didn't know what to do with it," said archaeologist Ehud Nesher, also of the Antiquities Authority.

Often, the screw-ups are some of the more interesting items found. In our 1996 season at Memphis (ARCE Field School) the only intact ceramic vessel we found was a nifty little bowl that had misfired and was misshappen. That area was probably a dumping ground for various ceramics manufacturing activities, so I'm always tickled that that reject came down as the only intact survivor.

Also, there is a particular type of Predynastic pottery called black-topped brown/red war. The way they made it was (probably) by taking the vessel out of the kiln and inverting it into some organic debris (sawdust maybe) and letting the top get blackened. Anyway, I was in the Petrie Museum and saw one jar that had no black on the top, but had a big spot of it on its side. Apparently, someone had dropped it before they could get it into the proper upside down position. I still wonder what word Egyptians used when they botched something up.