OH&S News

City of quarries unearths more treasures

The first century quarry would have held huge stones used in the construction of Jerusalem’s ancient buildings. Archaeologists uncovered pick axes and wedges amongst other artifacts at the site in the modern day Ramat Shlomo Quarter, a neighborhood in northern East Jerusalem.
?The pick axes were used to cut the severance channels around the stone block in the bedrock surface and the arrowhead-shaped detachment wedge, which is solid iron, was designed to detach the base of the stone from the bedrock by means of striking it with a hammer,? said IAA excavation director Irina Zilberbod. ?The key that was found, and which was probably used to open a door some 2000 years ago, is curved and has teeth.
“The quarrying phenomenon created a spectacular sight of bedrock columns and steps and craters of sorts that were the result of the rock cuttings. What remained are rock masses in various stages of quarrying, and there were those that were found in a preliminary stage of rock cutting prior to detachment.”
The research team uncovered an area of around 1000 square metres where the ancient quarry would have existed. Some of the huge stones would have reached about two metres in length and weighed tens if not hundreds of tonnes, the researchers said.
{{image2-a:R-w:200-c:Some of the tools recovered from the quarry excavation.}}
Second Temple period
The quarry site also connects with other previously identified quarries, all of which are situated in Jerusalem’s so-called “city of quarries” dating to the Second Temple period, spanning the years 538 BC to AD 70.
In a dig in 2007, IAA scientists uncovered another Second Temple period quarry. The stones from this quarry, eight metres in length, would have been used by King Herod for his temple at the Temple Mount and other monumental buildings, according to the IAA and news reports.
Researchers suggest the Meleke rock formation on-site is easily quarried and hardens immediately after being cut and shaped. As this area would have been elevated above the city of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period, it could have made transport of the enormous stones easier.
A first century road was also discovered adjacent to the quarry that may have been used for stone transportation. Scientists are uncertain how the giant stones could have moved along this road but suspect oxen and wooden rollers may have been used. Historical records also note giant wood-lifting devices were in use at the time.
Sources: Art Daily, NBC News


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