An archaeologist with Israel’s Antiquities Authority believes his team has uncovered a metal chisel that may have been used in the construction of the Second Temple, Israeli media are reporting, describing the finding as “extraordinary” and “astonishing.”
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is considered to be the most holy site in Judaism, which stands alongside the Western Wall — that is, the remaining structure of the Second Temple.
“It is a 15 cm [6 inches] long ancient chisel. For the first time, after 2,000 years, we are in the possession of a work tool used by the builders who built the Kotel, the Western Wall,” said Eli Shukron who heads the archaeological dig just south of the Western Wall.
The Israeli news agency Tazpit reported that the Israel Antiquities Authority said that while the chisel was unearthed last year, it is waiting for research on it to be completed before issuing an official announcement on the discovery.
“I have no doubt that it belongs to the time the Wall was built,” Shukron said. “We found it at the base of the Western Wall, about six meters [6.5 yards] below the main street of Jerusalem in the era of the Second Temple. The coins we found in the area, and ceramics too, indicate that it was at the time the Western Wall was built.”
“The chisel itself was found inside rubble of stone chips that fell from the stonemasons working on the rocks comprising the Western Wall,” he added according to Tazpit’s report Wednesday, adding he believes a worker using the chisel dropped it from a high wall.
The Times of Israel reported that Shukron has spent 19 years digging in the area.
Ha’aretz reported that the tool was found under the Davidson Center Archaeological Park next to Robinson’s Arch, south of the Western Wall Plaza.
At the Western Wall, “people pray and kiss these holy stones every day,” he said. “But someone carved them, chiseled them, someone put them in place. They were laborers, people with tools. Today, for the first time, we can touch one of their chisels.”