A special media publication that aired recently, just before Israel’s Independence Day, reported on the discovery of a special stone found among the foundations of the Western Wall.
According to its excavator, Eli Shukrun, this stone could have been originally from the Temple itself. Indeed the stone is of higher quality than all other stones of the Western retaining wall.
It was a carefully chosen from a “meleke” (Arabic “royal”) quarry, it has no boss around it edges (unlike almost all other stones of the Western Wall), and is uniquely smoothed by a “comb” chisel.
“When I found the stone I was puzzled. What could such a stone be doing here?” told me Eli on the phone. “Gradually I developed a scenario that could explain it. The stone was prepared to be used in the Temple building itself, but for some reason there was no need of it. Being so, it was decided to use it in the expansion project of the Temple Mount, and so it was placed in the foundation of the Western Wall, under the contemporary street level, so no one really saw it.
Such a stone would stand out if visible, and would interfere with the architectural harmony of the rest of the Western Wall”.
Dr. Eilat Mazar, who led a big project of documenting every stone of all the retaining walls of the Temple Mount, agrees with Eli that this stone is unusual.
“It doesn’t prove it was indeed meant to be placed necessarily in the Temple itself, but looks like it was intended to a more majestic structure then the Wstern retaining wall.”
I just had to see the stone for myself. The next day, following Eli’s instructions, I made my way to the underground excavation site at the Western Wall, and climbing over fences and walking across wooden beams I made and found the stone!.
It was indeed unusual, and of high quality. It just stood out among all other stones in the wall.
Have we uncovered the first evidence of the architectural style of the stones used for constructing the Herodian Temple in Jerusalem? This thought is mind boggling, and I hope further excavation will uncover further evidence.
(Click on the photos for full image)