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Sunday, July 01, 2012

Second Temple mikveh was discovered on Temple Mount in 1927 - and hushed up

From Israel HaYom:

In 1927, an earthquake struck Jerusalem, killing 130 people, wounding 450 and destroying or heavily damaging about 300 buildings, including Al-Aqsa mosque. The Muslim waqf, led by Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, began restoring the mosque. Robert Hamilton, the director of the antiquities department during the Mandatory period in pre-state Israel, spotted an opportunity in the midst of disaster.
7th century BCE finding from Temple Mount project, saying "From Gibeon to the King"

Hamilton took advantage of this unexpected window of opportunity to reach an agreement with the waqf that would allow archaeological investigation on the Temple Mount, for the first time ever, in the area where the mosque had collapsed. Hamilton documented the reconstruction work done by the waqf, photographed, sketched, excavated, analyzed and wrote about a series of findings, some of them surprising.

But this unprecedented cooperation between the British archaeologist and the Muslim clerics was not without a price. In the book that Hamilton later published, he makes no mention of any findings that the Muslims would have found inconvenient. It was no coincidence that these findings came from two historical periods that preceded the Muslim period in Jerusalem: the Second Temple era and the Byzantine era. These findings were hidden deep in the Mandatory archives department (which today is part of the Antiquities Authority archives in the Rockefeller Museum). These days they are finally coming to light.

...Beneath the floor of Al-Aqsa mosque, which had collapsed in the earthquake, Hamilton discovered the remains of a Jewish mikveh [ritual pool used for purification] that dated back to the Second Temple era.

Apparently, Jews immersed in this mikveh before entering the Temple grounds.
This article is a little maddening.

It describes the latest findings from the Temple Mount sifting project that is going through tons of debris that was criminally destroyed by the Waqf on the Temple Mount, and adds details I was not aware of, like:

...[P]iles of earth remain on the Temple Mount. In an extraordinary move, the High Court of Justice has ruled that the waqf is forbidden to move them.

“We are willing to allow the waqf to remove the earth from there under certain conditions that will allow us to carry out a better archaeological examination of it, or if they allow us to sift it there. Meanwhile, the waqf refuses to allow either option. Not only that, but it is deliberately mixing this earth with modern-day trash and construction debris in order to reduce our ability to get something out of it in the future,” he says.

But outside some Byzantine-era mosaics, the other findings that Robert Hamilton made, and presumably photos, are not delved into.

If they are at the Rockefeller Museum, and they have not been yet publicized - why not?

(h/t Yoel)