The Islamic organization that manages Muslim sites on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount once notoriously moved hundreds of truckloads of earth bulldozed from the Temple Mount, a step that was viewed by some Israelis as an effort to erase the Jewish history from the site.
Now, a 10-year-old boy has made a remarkable discovery in the dirt discarded from the site holiest in Judaism and third holiest to Muslims.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project, which for more than a decade has been sifting through the tons of topsoil discarded by the Jerusalem Waqf Islamic trust, announced that the young Russian tourist, Matvei Tcepliaev, found a 3,000-year-old seal dating to the eras of Kings David and Solomon.
Archaeologists believe the 10th century B.C. artifact is the first seal of its kind found in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project announced that the seal’s age would place it in “the historical period of the Jebusites and the conquest of Jerusalem by King David, as well as the construction of the [First] Temple and the royal official compound by his son, King Solomon.”
The discovery not only offers further evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem but also of the biblical narrative about the reigns of David and Solomon, as described in the two Books of Samuel and 1 Kings.
Jonathan Tobin in Commentary Magazine explained the political context of the fight over archaeological evidence:
By trashing an area that was loaded with precious artifacts buried over 30 centuries, the Palestinians hope to convince the world that Jews have no claim to Jerusalem, let alone any part of Israel, including the areas inside the 1967 lines.
The significance of the seal is that it shows the level of activity that is consistent with it serving as the site of the capital of ancient Israel. Since denying the existence of David’s Kingdom might hurt the case for Zionism’s legitimacy, destroying evidence of that history is key to their agenda. […]
Try as they might to call the Old City “traditionally Palestinian” or “Arab East Jerusalem,” all you need to do to confirm Jerusalem’s Jewish roots is to start digging.
The Sifting Project noted in its announcement of the discovery that the seal is “particularly significant,” because it was found on the Temple Mount which has never been excavated:
The discovery of the seal testifies to the administrative activity which took place upon the Temple Mount during those times. [….] Upon the base of the seal appear the images of two animals, one on top of the other, perhaps representing a predator and its prey. Additionally, the seal is perforated, thus enabling one to hang it from a string.
The Sifting Project which is run by Bar-Ilan University and the City of David Foundation invites tourists to help comb through the 400 truckloads of dirt dumped in a valley outside the Old City of Jerusalem in 1999 by the Islamic trust.
Volunteers have also discovered hundreds of 10th century B.C. pottery sherds and a rare bronze arrowhead believed to be from the same period.