>The Weekly Standard has published an article discussing the controversy surrounding the building of a ramp to allow non-Muslims to reach the enormous platform atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The article says in part:
Hundreds of truckloads were unloaded in municipal garbage dumps. Some drops were made late at night. This was vandalism on a breathtaking scale, and the vandals knew it. (In fact removing the soil was a crime in itself; archaeologists need to inspect soil in situ to understand the context and to know which layers were on top, what came next, and so forth.) All in all this was a sickening crime against the human spirit, a rape of the Mount. But radical Arab leaders routinely deny that a Temple ever existed in this place. They would love to annihilate every trace of Jewish history as they would love to destroy the Jews themselves. For would-be murderers, destroying truth is the next best thing to destroying life.
The precious soil was left unprotected, and garbage accumulated on top. Archaeologists managed to sift through certain portions that remained accessible. Important finds turned up. But “we are certain,” Mazar said recently, “that a vast amount of important data was lost.”
The Israeli government let it happen; ignored the outcry of Israelis and of archaeologists all over the world and allowed construction and dumping to continue. “The world’s patrimony is being carried off in dump trucks,” wrote Hershel Shanks (editor of Biblical Archaeology Review) in the Washington Post in July 2000. “All who care about the archaeological remains on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem . . . should be incensed at Israel’s failure to stop the Waqf . . . from illegally destroying precious remnants of history important to Muslims as well as to Jews and Christians.” An open letter to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, signed by dozens of prominent Israelis of all political colors, demanded that Barak stop “a serious act of irreparable archaeological vandalism and destruction.”
Read the article in its entirety by visiting The Weekly Standard.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Archaeology, Temple Mount, Eilat Mazar, Hershel Shanks