Calm Prevails at Holy Site in JerusalemUPDATE: But the propaganda conflict continues. The ADL has a roundup of comments and cartoons from the Islamic world. The second cartoon portrays Israeli archaeologists as snakes eating at the foundations of al-Haram al-Sharif, and the third appears to portray them as a dalek.
By ISABEL KERSHNER (NYT)
Published: February 17, 2007
JERUSALEM, Feb. 16 — Despite calls by Muslim religious figures for mass protests over Israel’s excavations near a site holy to Islam and Judaism, Jerusalem’s Old City was largely calm on Friday during and after noon prayers at Al Aksa Mosque.
The area immediately around the mosque was tense and eerily quiet. Dozens of Israeli police officers in riot gear stood on alert along a temporary wooden footbridge leading up to the mosque, which sits on the ancient man-made plateau known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and the Temple Mount to Jews. After Friday Prayer last week, hundreds of police officers entered the religious compound and clashed with rioters who threw stones.
I thought we didn't like inflammatory cartoons.
UPDATE: A few days ago the Jerusalem Post published a long Q&A session with archaeologist Eilat Mazar. It's very interesting and you should read it all.
Q&A on the Temple Mount with Dr. Eilat MazarI'll just comment on two excerpts:
Renowned archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University and the Shalem Center answers readers' questions about the Mughrabi Gate dispute and the status of the Temple Mount in recent years. Of the hundreds of questions received, here are 20 which encompass the major issues at hand.
Saul Mishaan, Brooklyn, New York: I know that digging on the Temple Mount is a non-starter, but is there any research involving the use of aerial infrared photography or sonar to assist in determining the layout of the Second Temple compound?I didn't know this. It sounds important. I hope that as technology improves, more use of non-intrusive methods like this can fill out our knowledge of what is inside the Temple Mount.
Dr. Mazar: I know that research using these methods had been conducted from outside of the compound in order to trace hollow spaces. There were very interesting results, such as the finding that the ancient walls of the compound are very thick, and that behind them are many massive underground halls.
Mary Ellen Marks Highland Lakes: Is it true that the Ark of the Covenant is buried under the mount?This is amazing, so much so that I wonder if Dr. Mazar has been misunderstood or misquoted. It is fantastically unlikely that the Ark of the Covenant is still buried under the Temple Mount. The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar would have carted off all the major loot, and any artifacts of serious value left over would have been removed during the fifty years or so that the site lay in rubble during the exile. Anything that was missed would have been found and removed during the Herodian reconstruction of the Second Temple, which involved the rebuilding of the whole site. I'm sure there are lots of very interesting things still buried on the Temple Mount (interesting to archaeologists and historians), but the Ark of the Covenant is not one of them.
Dr. Mazar: There is a very high probability that the most important ancient remains are inside the compound in the massive underground halls. This includes the Ark of the Covenant.