1078 – 1079 Gabriel Barkay and the Temple Mount
Back at the end of 1999 we first began reporting on the surreptitious removal of tons of dirt from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, dirt that was removed as part of an unauthorized construction project and then dumped in the Kidron Valley. The project took place at one of the most sensitive archaeological sites in the world with no archaeological oversight. A bold archaeology student at Bar Ilan University, Zachi Zweig, was able to convince one of his professors to do what no other archaeologist was interested in doing, re-excavate the dirt to search for artifacts.
That archaeology professor, Gabriel Barkey, has been a guest on THE BOOK & THE SPADE several times in the past. We even called him up at his home in Israel to talk about this project a year and a half ago. On these programs we got to talk with him in person to get an update, as he was in the middle of a lecture tour across the U.S. to report on his findings.
Sure it was a “the archaeological crime of the century” he said. But if it hadn’t happened there would be no other way to get this kind of archaeological information about the Temple Mount. Because what they are finding is filling in some gaps in our understanding of the Temple Mount, including Canaanite and pre-Canaanite periods, as well as the Christian-Byzantine period. Give a listen for more information on one of the most unique archaeological excavations in the annals of Biblical Archaeology.
The big news this week, is of course the “tomb of Jesus’ family,” that the Discovery Channel is touting as a big discovery. This is not a new thing, archaeologists have known about this tomb for years. Just because it contains the ossuaries of people with the same names as members of Jesus’ family doesn’t mean it should be taken seriously as the tomb of that actual family. In fact, what is surprising to me is the tone of denunciation coming from so many archaeologists regarding this discovery. It’s as if archaeologists have decided that they’ve had enough out of faux experts who trumpet fantasty discoveries as if there’s actual substance to them so they can get rich selling books and videos.
Unfortunately, there are some of these faux archaeologists who are making the rounds in the evangelical world and doing much the same thing with their talk of Mt. Sinai being in Saudi Arabia or Mt. Ararat being in Iran. I’m talking about Bob Cornuke, and before him Ron Wyatt, who are the most well known. The latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine has a carefully researched critique of Cornuke’s latest claim regarding Mt. Ararat in Iran.