QUARRY FOUND IN JERUSALEM
Israeli archeologists say they've discovered quarry used for Herod's Temple
Israeli archeologists have discovered a quarry that provided King Herod with the stones he used to renovate the biblical Second Temple compound - offering rare insight into construction of the holiest site in Judaism. The source of the huge stones used nearly 2,000 years ago to reconstruct the compound in Jerusalem's Old City was discovered on the site of a proposed school in a Jerusalem suburb.
"This is the first time stones which were used to build the Temple Mount walls were found," said Yuval Baruch, an archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority involved in the dig. Quarries mined for the massive stones, each weighing more than 20 tonnes, eluded researchers until now, he said.
Baruch said coins and pottery found in the quarry confirm the stone was used during the period of Herod's expansion of the Temple Mount in 19 BC.
But researchers said the strongest piece of evidence was found wedged into one of the massive cuts in the white limestone - an iron stake used to split the stone. The tool was apparently improperly used, accidentally lodged in the stone and forgotten.
Nesher said the large outlines of the stone cuts indicated the site was a massive public project worked by hundreds of slaves. "Nothing private could have done this," Nesher said. "This is Herod's, this is a sign of him."
Herod was the Jewish proxy ruler of the Holy Land under imperial Roman occupation from 37 BC. Herod's most famous construction project was the renovation of the Second Temple, replacing a smaller structure that itself replaced the First Temple, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
In addition to the quarry site, archeologists recently discovered a road a short distance from the quarry that was possibly used to transport the stones, Baruch said. How the enormous stones were moved to the construction site remains a mystery, he added.