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Temple Mount Archeological Project Stalls After Right Wing Group Cuts Funding

A project to find artifacts in soil taken from the Temple Mount has been placed on hold due to a lack of funding, the directors said on Sunday.

Since the early 2000s, the Temple Mount Sifting Project has engaged over a quarter million volunteers from around the world to dig through soil to find fragments of ancient pottery, coins and even pieces of bone.

According to the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf excavated part of the Temple Mount without archaeological supervision in order to build an underground mosque, leaving tens of thousands of tons of dirt outside the Old City.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project gained access to the dirt in 2004, and has sifted around 70 percent of it for ancient objects. The project has resulted in some fascinating finds, like an ancient Egyptian amulet, a coin from the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 CE and gold tiles from the Dome of the Rock.

The organization had to put its operations on hold when its funder, the Ir David Foundation, withdrew its financial support. Ir David, a controversial group with projects in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to build a capital, did not explain its decision to cut funding.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com

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