Friday, November 11, 2011


Our guide made arrangements for us to participate in the Temple Mount Sifting Project.  The Temple Mount is where the original Jewish Temple was and where now stands the Dome of the Rock and an Islamic mosque.  Several years ago the mosque got permission from the antiquities authority to build a new entrance to the mosque.  In fact what they were doing was digging underground to expand the mosque.  They were secretly dumping truckload after truckload of dirt from this ancient area.  A group discovered what was happening a acquired authority over the dump soil.  It was transferred to donated land and now they have been sifting the dirt for more than 5 years.  And we got to have our chance at being amateur archaeologists.

One of the volunteers showing the kids how to sift

Archaeologists in action

Mostly we found bits of broken pottery and pieces of mosaic but there were also some bones (most likely from animal sacrifice), glass, and metal.  Emily hit the jackpot when she found a small orange bead.  It was assumed to be a glass bead from jewelry but after it was cleaned off and examined closer they decided it was made of some precious stone used 1500 years ago!  Her find got it's own little labeled ziplock bag for safe keeping and they took her name and email so she can get credit for the find should it be determined to be significant.

The kids definitely could have stayed here all day digging in the dirt.  I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them adds archaeologist to their list of "what I want to be" after this experience.

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