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The quarry quandry

by harry May 20 2008
ArchaeologyCity planning

The coolest basement ever?

The coolest basement ever?

Due to the historical nature of every single grain of dirt in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority pre-excavates all planned construction sites in the city. Lest someone build upon an ancient cistern or olive oil press. It is not uncommon for construction projects to be abandoned or roads rerouted in light of such discoveries.

Recently, during a routine excavation of land in the neighborhood of Sanhedria before the construction of a private house, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) uncovered a Second Temple-era quarry believed to have possibly been used for the construction of the Western Wall. Dr. Gerald Finkelstein, head of the excavation on behalf of the IAA, explains, "Most of the stones that were found, are similar in size to the smallest stones that you can see in the Western Wall today or to those in Jerusalem's 'third wall' (remains of which can be seen to the north of the old city walls and passes by Route 1). We therefore assume that these quarry stones were used to build these structures."

Some of the stones measured 0.69 x 0.94 x 1.65 meters, the same size as the stones used in the Western Wall, lending credence to the theory. Dr. Finkelstein estimates that the quarry was abandoned in the period of the Great Rebellion of 66-73 CE when the Jews rebelled against the Romans.

Jerusalemite can't help but wonder what is going through the minds of the owners of the land which was being dug up to lay the foundations for a new private house. Are they bummed that they can't build on the land or honored that their land is a Second Temple-era quarry, possibly for the Western Wall? Not sure which we'd be.... Do you think the land owners get any compensation? Is it possible that the Antiquities Authority "coincidently" made this "discovery" the same week that the new Indiana Jones movie is being released?

Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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