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Archaeologists Excavate Paving Stones at Temple Site Laid During Herod’s Reign

June 12, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Archaeologists excavating on the site of the Temple in Old Jerusalem have unearthed several large stones which were once part of the pavement leading to the southern entrance of the holiest of Jewish shrines. The archaeological team, headed by Prof. Benjamin Mazar of the Hebrew University, found the stones under six feet of debris after digging through 13 layers representing various eras of Jerusalem’s long history. The discovery was made on the 100th day of digging which happened to coincide with the first anniversary of the liberation of East Jerusalem by Israel.

The stones were described as weighing about a quarter of a ton each and measuring approximately two feet by three feet. They were laid down during the reign of Herod Antipas who lived from 20 B.C.E. to 39 C.E. and was king of Judaea under the Roman occupation at the start of the Christian era. The discovery revealed a possible error in the account by the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus who said the Temple area was paved with marble. The slabs found were of well dressed grey Jerusalem stone. It is believed that some of them may have toppled from the southern wall of the Temple when it was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 C.E. Prof. Mazar’s archaeological work is being carried out under permits issued by the Department of Antiquities of the Israel Government and the Jerusalem municipality. Attempts by the Chief Rabbinate to block the scientific undertaking as sacrilegious were rejected by the authorities.

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