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Quarry that may have been source of Second Temple stones uncovered in Jerusalem

Archaeologists say find provides ‘clear demonstration’ of various phases of stone preparation, and can help them recreate and test ancient methods described in biblical sources

  • A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
  • A 2000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)
    A 2000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,000-year-old stone quarry, along with a range of massive building blocks in various stages of the pre-construction process, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.

The large quarry discovered in the modern-day industrial park of Har Hotzvim, which means “quarrymen’s hill,” likely dates to the first century BCE and would have been active around the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, archaeologists say.

“The large-scale building projects in ancient Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount, required a vast amount of building materials and the ability to organize and coordinate the quarrying and transportation of thousands of building blocks to the ancient city,” said Moran Hagbi, the excavation’s director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The partially excavated quarry covers approximately 600 square meters but archaeologists say it could be at least two or three times as large.

The massive building blocks extracted from it measure 1.5 x 2 meters and provide “a clear demonstration of all the phases of quarrying and stone preparation,” the IAA said in a statement.

“We uncovered large, square blocks of stone about to be detached from the bedrock, prior to loading and transporting them to the ancient city,” Hagbi said, adding that the quarry “presents a golden opportunity; because some of the stones were left in situ in this way, we can copy ancient technologies and experiment with them in order to recreate the processes by which the building stones were quarried.”

A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists and conservationists are now planning to try and recreate the ancient methods used to detach the stone blocks, as well as to test the effectiveness of methods described in biblical sources, the IAA said.

The excavation was a salvage dig ahead of the construction of new buildings in the neighborhood.

A 2,000-year-old stone quarry discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Hotzvim. (Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israel Antiquities Authority’s general director Eli Escosido said: “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. Before any development project begins in Jerusalem, our archaeologists are called upon to excavate and examine any ancient finds, for the sake of future generations.”

Har Hotzvim, located in northwest Jerusalem, is the capital’s main high-tech park for science-based and technology companies, among them Intel, Teva, Cisco, Mobileye and Johnson and Johnson.

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