New Discovery: Archaeologists Restore Second Temple Ancient Tiles
Archaeologists are excited to announce that for the first time since it’s destruction over 2,000 years, successful reconstruction of the Herodian Second Temple has begun! They are literally starting from the ground up and have begun to piece together tile fragments from the ornate stone floors that once covered the holy temple’s courtyard. The importance of this achievement is emphasized by the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, Zachi Dvira, who stated that, “This represents the first time that archaeologists have been able to successfully restore an element from the Herodian Second Temple complex.”
These multi-colored tiles were uncovered from piles of dirt that were illegally removed from the Temple Mount in 1999. Knowing that the debris was most likely rich with ancient artifacts, the Temple Mount Sifting Project was established to recover these antiquities. Funded by the City of David Foundation and the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, the Temple Mount Sifting Project began in 2004. Thanks to more than 200,000 volunteers, nearly 600 tiles were found, about 100 of which were dated with near certainty to the Second Temple period.
The tiles consist of geometric patterns cut from marble and other stones that originated from areas such as Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, and Asia Minor and were fashioned into a style of flooring known as opus sectile, meaning “cut work” in Latin. This type of flooring is in keeping with that of other well-known structures built by King Herod, such as the palace at Masada, and is typical of the Second Temple period style. This type of flooring was extremely expensive and was therefore viewed as being more prestigious than mosaic tile floors. The opulence of these reconstructed sections of floor give us a glimpse into the overall grandeur of the temple itself.
The public is able to view a reproduction of the tiles at Jerusalem’s City of David Archaeological Conference. Perhaps this is just the beginning and we will be hearing about further discoveries and reconstruction of the Herodian Second Temple in the near future.