On a mountain top overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City and the desert beyond, piles of ancient rubble await discovery. This is the Temple Mount Sifting Project, where ordinary people like you and me can look carefully through buckets of what look like rocks and sand, hoping to find archaeological artifacts, or at least confirm that none are present and accidentally thrown away in the debris.
The debris being sifted one bucket at a time comes from the Temple Mount, holy to three faiths. In 1999, large amounts of dirt from the area were bulldozed aside during renovations of some Muslim sites.
Two Israeli archaeologists retrieved the dumped dirt and began sifting it, work that continues today one bucket a time. With the sensitive political situation long preventing proper archaeological exploration in the area, this debris is especially valuable and has yielded a number of important discoveries. Over the years, thousands of coins, ranging from the First Temple period to the time of the Jewish revolts against the Romans in the first century, along with other artifacts have been found in the debris—many of them by ordinary people. In fact, more than 200,000 people from all over the world have sifted buckets of soil as part of this project.
“Each find we made was exciting, whether small or large,” Sarah Russell, from Ontario, Canada, said of her visit here. “It brought history to life for me The shaded site, with nearby picnic tables and restrooms make this an ideal family outing for those of all ages. Although the sifting, done with fine mesh and water, is the highlight for many, a visit here also includes a short lecture about the project and a display of artifacts found over the years. The views and cool breezes on this mountain top, even in the summer, are also well worth the visit. For more information, and to book a visit, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02-566-7067.