JERUSALEM — A quarry which supplied blocks of stone for the construction of the second Jewish Temple has been uncovered in an area north of Jerusalem, an Israeli archaeologist said on Sunday.
The “sensational” pit was unearthed some two months ago during regular inspections ahead of construction work at a site some four kilometers (three miles) north of Temple Mount, Yuval Baruch of the country’s antiquities authority told reporters.
Temple Mount, constructed by King Herod, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. and its only remaining vestige — the Western Wall — is considered Judaism’s holiest site.
It is also where today stands the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site for Islam.
“We have uncovered the quarry where the blocks used for the construction of the Second Temple were extracted some 2,000 years ago,” Baruch said.
The quarry is located in the Jewish ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967.
“We immediately understood the exceptional importance of this quarry, and from a historic point of view this is a sensational discovery,” he said.
The quarry’s white rock, which resembles marble, and its huge five-to-seven tonne blocks “are unprecedented and similar to those of the Western Wall,” he said.
Tools and coins from King Herod’s time were also uncovered at the site.