Temple Mount Sifting Project Halted After Major Backer Pulls Funds
JNS.org – The Temple Mount Sifting Project, an archaeological initiative to uncover rare artifacts buried in soil removed from the Jerusalem holy site in the 1990s, has been halted due to budget constraints.
The project issued a statement on its closure Sunday, citing “lack of funding and differences between the directors of the Sifting Project and the Ir David Foundation.”
A year after the sifting project commenced, the Ir David Foundation had agreed to finance the operation, and did so for 12 years before pulling the funding in March.
A spokesperson for the foundation, Ze’ev Orenstein, said “about 12 years ago the Ir David organization helped save the earth that was excavated from the Temple Mount…since that time the group voluntarily funded the sifting, processing and research of the earth to the tune of millions of shekels. We hope that a way will be found for this national and international project to continue.”
Throughout its duration, the project involved the participation of more than 250,000 volunteers who helped sift through the salvaged Jerusalem dirt to uncover tens of thousands of small archaeological objects and fragments.
One of the project’s rarest finds was a half-shekel coin dating back to the first year of the Jewish revolt against Rome in 66 CE.