A Jerusalem temple’s floor was restored after archeologists unearthed the original tiles. Via a celebratory press release, the many archaeologists and volunteers from the Jerusalem-based Temple Mount Sifting Project have announced that they have been able to recreate the flooring of the Second Temple.
The organization said their hard and tedious work paid off because they found pieces of tiles amid tons of dirt and debris from the Temple Mount, which the Muslims call Haram al-Sharif.
The Temple Mount Sifting Project was launched in 1999 and has attracted volunteers from all over the world, who worked tirelessly to search through “tons of antiquities-rich earth from the Temple Mount.” The workers gathered more that 600 segments of stone flooring since the charity was launched. A bit more information about the Temple Mount:
“Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The present site is dominated by three monumental structures from the early Umayyad period: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain, as well as four minarets. Herodian walls and gates with additions dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.”
The temple floor features intricate geometric patterns of squares inside of other squares in colors including black, beige, and rose. The flooring is made of marble and alabaster and similar to other floors in palaces from the time of King Herod about 2,000 years ago.
Herod was a Roman king, who ruled the area in the first century BCE and expanded the site of the second Temple. The temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD during a Jewish rebellion.
Frankie Snyder, from the project’s team, explained that the type of flooring is known as opus sectile, Latin for “cut work,” and “considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiles floors.” Snyder added:
“The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them. So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount. The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”
Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, added:
“It enables us to get an idea of the Temple’s incredible splendor.”
The temple’s restored tiles will be presented to the general public on September 8th at the 17th Annual City of David Archaeological Conference.