Ancient quarry discovered in Jerusalem

The capital’s high-tech center today is located on Stonecutters Mountain, Jerusalem’s flourishing business of yesteryear, as proven again by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found an ancient quarry last week on Jerusalem’s Har Hotzvim, or Stonecutters Mountain, that may date as far back as two thousand years, to the time of the Second Temple.

As mandated by law, the dig was carried out prior to work in the area by the Moriah Company – the Jerusalem Development Company. About 600 meters of the quarry was uncovered, but it is likely two or even three times larger than the area that has been exposed.

The location of the quarry made good business sense, considering the eagerness of various kings of Israel to construct important buildings relatively nearby.

“The large building projects of antiquity in Jerusalem, such as the Temple Mount, required a large amount of building materials and organization and coordination capabilities for the quarrying and transport of thousands of building blocks to the Old City,” said IAA archeologist Moran Hajabi, who conducted the excavation. “Thus, large, square blocks of stone were exposed just before they were cut off from the bedrock, prior to loading and transporting them to the Old City.”

Some of the blocks that were found in the quarry are particularly large, two meters by a meter and a half. This reminds even the most amateur archeologist of the huge stones that can be found, for example, in the Second-Temple-era Western Wall.

“For us archaeologists, this quarry is a golden opportunity; the fact that some of the stones were left on site allows us to learn the [ancient] process of quarrying the building blocks,” Hajabi added.

According to the IAA, all the stages of quarrying and stone processing can be seen in this particular site. They also have hewing tools from other similarly aged sites. Several archaeologists and conservationists therefore intend to use the knowledge they have gained to do some stone cutting the old-fashioned way.

The experiment will allow the modern builders to test the effectiveness of methods described in Scriptures.

This northern region of the capital had many such quarries, according to IAA head Eli Escosido, and revealing them is very apropos, especially now.

“In a symbolic way, the development drive in Jerusalem today is that which enables us to expose and examine the huge construction projects of ancient Jerusalem,” something that he believes is very important “for future generations” to know.

It is also apropos that the high-tech center of Jerusalem, which brings a hefty amount of business to the city and the country as a whole, is located in what was probably one of the biggest centers of business in its earliest iteration as a city and capital of the Jewish state.