Possible Source for Stone Used in the Second Temple Complex
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), an ancient stone quarry used during the Second Temple period was recently discovered in Jerusalem. The massive blocks cut from the quarry (most measuring 5.0 by 6.5 feet) were used in the construction of monumental buildings in ancient Jerusalem, including perhaps the famous Second Temple complex built by Herod the Great. The IAA discovered the 2,000-year-old quarry during a salvage excavation in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hozvim, or “Quarrymen’s Hill,” located north of the Old City.
The newly discovered quarry was found in situ, with many of the stone blocks left in various stages of being hewn from the bedrock. According to the IAA, the site presents a unique opportunity to study the different quarrying methods described in ancient sources and to examine how various tools may have been used to cut, detach, and transport blocks. Such studies will allow archaeologists to better estimate the efficiency of ancient quarrying techniques, and to understand how much time and manpower was required to create the many monumental buildings of Herodian Jerusalem.
While the salvage excavation revealed about 6,500 square feet of the quarry, the IAA estimates that it was originally two or three times that size, extending across half an acre. Given its size, archaeologists believe the quarry could have been the city’s main source of stone during the Second Temple period. According to IAA Director-General Eli Eskozido, “In a symbolic way, Jerusalem’s current development boom presents us with an opportunity to excavate and research the great building projects in Jerusalem in antiquity.”
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