Discovered quarry may have supplied Second Temple stones
Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient quarry where they believe King Herod hewed stones for the construction of the Temple 2,000 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority said yesterday.
The archaeologists believe the 1000-square-meter quarry on Jerusalem's Shmuel Hanavi road was part of a much larger network of quarries used by Herod in the city. The biggest stones extracted from the quarry would have measured three meters long, two meters across, and two meters high.
Dig director Ofer Sion said the size of the stones indicates they could have been used in the construction of the Temple compound, including the Western Wall.
"We know from historical sources that the Temple and other projects Herod built, like his palace, required hundreds of thousands of stones of various sizes - mainly weighing 2-5 tons," Sion said. "The size of the rocks mined from this quarry are compatible with the Temple walls."
The two-week excavation, which was conducted before construction begins on an apartment complex at the site, also uncovered pottery, coins and what appear to be tools used in the quarry dating to the first century B.C.E.
Herod was the Roman-appointed king of Judea from 37 B.C.E. to 4 B.C.E. and was known for his many major building projects, including the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. by Roman legions following a Jewish revolt.
"We know Herod trained more than 10,000 workers to do this. They moved the huge stones in various ways - on wooden contraptions that rolled along, pulled by camels and oxen and on carts they built, among other things," Sion said.