And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” – Luke 21:5-6 (ESV)

Amazing new discoveries at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount are providing evidence of the Second Temple from the time of King Herod. As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz in Breaking Israel News, archaeologists have pieced together fragments of stone to recreate the exquisite patterned marble floor tiles that once decorated the Temple with their geometric patterns.

Floor tile from the Second Temple. (Temple Mount Sifting Project/Zachi Dvira)

The marble shards were found in material illegally removed from the Temple Mount by the Jordanian Waqf’s excavations for a mosque and then dumped in the nearby Kidron Valley. The Temple Mount Sifting Project, headed by Zachi Dvira and Dr. Gabriel Barkay, has been meticulously searching through the material since 2004 with funding from the City of David Foundation and operating under the wing of the Israel Parks and Nature Authority. The project is attempting to salvage whatever archaeological artifacts it can.

Among other finds, approximately 600 colored stone floor tile pieces have been uncovered, with many of them securely dated to the Herodian Second Temple period (Herod reigned c. 37-4 BC). Herod’s expansion of the Temple made it one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Frankie Snyder displaying two restored floor tiles from the courtyard of the Second Temple. (Temple Mount Sifting Project/Zachi Dvira)

Frankie Snyder, the team’s expert familiar with Herodian style flooring, was responsible for restoring the tiles. “So far, we have succeeded in restoring seven potential designs of the majestic flooring that decorated the buildings of the Temple Mount,” said Snyder. “The tile segments were perfectly inlaid such that one could not even insert a sharp blade between them.”

The finds fit with the record of First century historian Josephus who wrote, “… the uncovered [Temple Mount courtyard] was completely paved with stones of various types and colors…” (The Jewish War 5:2).

The Jewish Talmud also preserved the memory of the magnificence of the Second Temple with the statement ‘whoever has not seen Herod’s building has not seen a beautiful building in his life.’ It also recalls its magnificent construction, with rows of colored marble in hues of green, blue and white.

Floor tile from the Second Temple. (Temple Mount Sifting Project/Zachi Dvira)

The ornate style is consistent with other Herodian palaces with perfectly cut inlaid tiles in geometric shapes based on the Roman foot of approximately 29.6 cm.

Some have expressed skepticism, claiming that the tiles may have come from some Roman building and not the Temple. Though not found in situ (when an artifact has rested undisturbed in the position and layer it was originally buried in, so its context and date can more reliably be known) the project managers are confident in their conclusions. Zachi Dvira, co-founder and director of the project said it was the first time archaeologists have restored a part of the Second Temple complex.

All the soil that we are sifting originates from inside the walls of the Herodian Temple Mount,” Dr. Gabriel Barkay said. “They were discovered in the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount and we are sure that they belonged to that placement.” He added, “This represents the first time that we can see with our own eyes the splendor of the flooring that decorated the Second Temple and its annexes 2,000 years ago.”

Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project with Director, Timothy Mahoney. (Thinking Man Films)

These archaeological finds continue to challenge the claims by some Arabs (including members of the Waqf) that the biblical Temples never existed. The international community is also increasingly endorsing Temple denial. UNESCO recently passed an initiative claiming the Western Wall as an exclusively Muslim holy site. Barkay stated. “The fact is there was a Temple. Our discovery simply shows the glory that was the Temple.”

An eight-pointed star floor tile from the Second Temple. (Temple Mount Sifting Project/Zachi Dvira)

When Barkay was asked if this was proof refuting Temple denial he replied, “You are asking me if I have proof that water is wet. I don’t need to prove anything. I found facts.”

“For the Temple, we have the Mishnah (Oral Law), the New Testament, we have the writings of Flavius Josephus. We have mountains of archaeological evidence. I don’t want to relate to what is nothing less than a political misuse of history.”