Quarry used in Second Temple found in central Jerusalem
Head of excavation team says quarry was likely used in construction of King Herod's projects.
An ancient quarry dating back to the end of the Second Temple period has been uncovered in excavations being conducted in Jerusalem.
The quarry, around one dunam in area and estimated to be 2,030 years old, is situated on Shmuel Hanavi Street, just near Jerusalem's American Colony neighborhood. It is being excavated under the direction of Dr. Ofer Sion and Yehuda Rapuano of the Israel Antiquities Authority, prior to the construction of residential buildings.
Sion said that the size of the stones, at a maximum height of two meters, indicates that it was likely they were intended for use in the construction of King Herod's projects, including the Temple walls.
"We know from historical sources that in order to build the Temple and other projects which Herod constructed, such as his palace, hundreds of thousands of various size stones were required - most of them weighing between two and five tons each," Sion said.
"The dimensions of the stones that were produced in the quarry that was revealed are suitable for the Temple walls."
Sion added that the quarry was a small part of a series of quarries spread across the entire slope, from the Musrara Quarter to the Sanhedria Quarter.
"The massive quarrying effort, on the order of hundreds of thousands of stones, lowered the topography of Jerusalem in the vicinity of the Old City. Today, with the exposure of this quarry, the intensity of the building projects as described in the historical sources can be proven. Flavius Josephus wrote that before Herod built the Temple he prepared the infrastructure for it; the quarrying of the Temple?s stones lasted eight whole years.
"The Temple itself was built in a relatively short period of time of two years. With the exposure of the quarries in Sanhedria and Ramat Shlomo, it is clear that Herod began quarrying closest to the Temple and worked away from it; first he exploited the stone on the nearby ridges and subsequently he moved on to quarry in more distant regions."
Among the artifacts discovered in the excavation were metal plates that were used to severe the stones from the bedrock, and coins and pottery shards dating back to the end of the Second Temple period (the first century BCE).
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