Beneath The Surface: The Temple Mount Sifting Project -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 22:1 (Winter 2009)
Article: Beneath The Surface: The Temple Mount Sifting Project
Author: Gordon Franz

Beneath The Surface:
The Temple Mount Sifting Project

Gordon Franz

This issue of Bible and Spade is devoted to the 2008 ABR Temple Mount Sifting Project (hereafter TMSP) study tour. When the ABR Board of Directors decide that the TMSP was a worthy project to participate in, they asked me to put together a program for the study tour. As I was driving home from the board meeting, my mind was going a mile a minute thinking about and planning this opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do: teach a class on Jerusalem, in Jerusalem, and combine it with a worthwhile archaeological project. I have lived and worked in Jerusalem for a number of years, so this was a dream come true, to teach about the city that I love.

The Lord blessed our group with 19 wonderful people from all walks of life. You will meet each one of them in the pages of this issue.

Our “home away from home” was the Gloria Hotel, just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City. This was the ideal location for our group. Unlike most tours of Israel where you are living out of your suitcase and sleeping in a different bed every other night, the Gloria was home for us. We unpacked our bags on the first night that we arrived, slept in the same bed for two weeks, and did not repack our bags until we left for home. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful. The rooms were neat and cleaned daily. George and his staff prepared outstanding meals. And on our last night, we had a whole roasted lamb with all the trimmings for our farewell dinner. It doesn’t get any better than that!

One of the sifters, Heather Pollard, commented:

I had been to Israel once before, but this time it was different. We spent two weeks living in Jerusalem and walked everywhere. The city and the culture became a part of daily life, and I no longer felt like a tourist. Storeowners were friendly faces that I waved and said hello to just like we had been neighbors for years. I felt like I was at home instead of living on a bus.

The TMSP staff helped make this a truly educational experience. When we first arrived, the co-director, Zachi Zweig, gave us an introductory lecture on the project and how it relates to the Temple Mount. During the two weeks we were sifting, the staff taught us about pottery, mosaics, metals, glass, bones, and even shepherding! The on-site archaeologist, Tali Cohen, would explain each special find to the sifter as she registered the object for processing. The day-to-day director, Assaf Avraham, gave us a very interesting presentation on the opus sectile (inlaid design) discovered by the project and how it might relate to a passage in Josephus and the Temple platform that Herod the Great built. One evening the other co-director, Dr....

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