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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Second Temple Era Key Exposed at New Highway Site

Excavations are mandatory prior to the start of public works in Israel.
A 2,000-year-old key was exposed in the excavation in Jerusalem.

A 2,000-year-old key was exposed in the excavation in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

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A 2,000-year-old key, as well as hatchets and splitting wedges, were found in a huge quarry dating back to the first century CE. The ancient quarry exposed in recent weeks during excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority before the construction of the new Jerusalem Road 21, connecting the neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo and Shu’afat northward with Beit Hanina and the Atarot Industrial Park.

The excavated quarry. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

The excavated quarry. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

Excavations are mandatory prior to the start of public works in Israel.

The large quarry that has been exposed—about a quarter of an acre—join the other major quarries documented and explored in the past by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Studies have shown that today’s northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem are sitting on the “city of quarries” of Second Temple Jerusalem.

According to Irene Zilberbod, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the phenomenon of quarrying has created a spectacular sight of the sentinel rock and rock terraces, as well as craters, as a result of the work of human carvers. The exposed sites feature boulders at various stages of hewing, and some were found at an early stage, when they had just been prepared for disconnection. Some of the quarried stones exceed six feet in length. Apparently, those huge stones were carved for use in public buildings in the city. ”

Zilberbod explained that “the axes were used to carve out channels in order to separate the stones from the surface of the rock. The splitting wedges (compressed iron arrowheads) were designed to remove the stone base from the rock using hammer blows.”

An assortment of the ancient items excavated recently. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

An assortment of the ancient items excavated recently. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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8 Responses to “Second Temple Era Key Exposed at New Highway Site”

  1. Brian Hildebrand says:

    What would a temple key be doing in a stone quarry? The way holy items were guarded and taken care of meticulously, I have my doubts that it was a temple key that they found.

  2. If they are right, it is a very fasinating find! In 70 AD after the Roman 10th legion under Titus sacked Jerusalem they despoiled the temple completely so it's possible that when the soldiers looked at the key and determined that it was not made of gold, it could have been discarded. Another possibility would be that a Levi may have had it on his person and fled the area dropping the key. I don't have any way of knowing how it got there but a key of this age is very rare and very interesting!

  3. The article does not say it was the key to the temple–just that it was a key that was from the same era as the temple.

  4. Stan Brin says:

    It's a "temple era" key. A lot of similar keys were recovered by Yigal Yadin during his excavation of Bar Kochba's caves above the Dead Sea.

  5. We should use these sites to rebuild the third temple rather than covering them with new concrete structures that merely make Jerusalem more crowded.

  6. Daniel Berry says:

    Wow!!!

  7. Brian Hildebrand says:

    Ok, sorry, I missed that clue.

  8. A very meaningful find on various levels. Time to rebuild!

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