Biblical Archaeology Review 36:5, September/October 2010

Strata: How Many?

How many pottery sherds have been recovered during the course of the Temple Mount Sifting Project?

Answer: 3.2 million

Since it officially began work in 2004, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, tasked with sifting through hundreds of truckloads of earth and debris illegally and recklessly removed from the Temple Mount by Muslim authorities in 1999, has recovered and counted well over three million pieces of pottery. It will take a lot of time fully to process and analyze that much pottery, but project directors Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig already estimate that about 15 percent of the sherds date to the First Temple period (1000–586 B.C.E.), while 40 percent come from the period of the Second Temple (516 B.C.E.–70 C.E.). The majority of the remaining sherds can be dated to the Byzantine (330–638 C.E.) and Early Islamic (638–1099 C.E.) periods.

In addition to pottery, the Sifting Project has also recovered thousands upon thousands of special finds crafted, used and ultimately discarded during the various epochs of Jerusalem’s history, including Egyptian scarabs, Israelite seals and numerous architectural fragments from Herod’s Temple Mount complex. Barkay and Zweig are writing an article about their project’s fascinating discoveries for a future issue of BAR.a

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