Archaeology news: The ‘real-life Indiana Jones’ who uncovered an ancient Biblical artefact

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Sir Charles Warren is widely recognised as one of the earliest archaeologists to explore the Holy Land, with a particular interest in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Sir Charles was an officer in the British Royal Engineers who secured a great deal of renown during his years in the military and as an archaeologist. In 1867, he was recruited by the Palestine Exploration Fund to lead a scouting expedition to the Holy Land, which at the time was under the control of the Ottoman Empire.

During this mission, he performed his first exploration of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a sight of holy significance to the world’s three Abrahamic faiths.

According to Tom Meyer, a professor of Bible studies at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in California, US, the archaeologist accidentally came across a 2,000-year-old artefact that could settle an age-old argument regarding the Temple Mount’s ancient history.

He told “In the late 19th century Charles Warren, the British royal engineer who was also a real-life Indiana Jones is credited with conducting the first major archaeological excavations of the Temple Mount.

“Once, while digging an excavation shaft at the base of the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, Warren penetrated the first-century pavement laid by Herod the Great and perhaps cracked the edge of a large stone that had been buried there for almost 2,000 years.

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“This important stone, now called ‘The Trumpeting Place Inscription,’ wasn’t discovered by Warren at that time; it remained hidden for about 100 more years until it was discovered in 1970 by Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar.”

Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has been a point of great contention for many centuries, as ownership has frequently shifted hands between the Jews, Christians and Muslims living in the Holy Land.

According to the Bible, the Temple Mount was home to Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, and designated a place where God’s presence on Earth was the most potent.

Scripture says the First Temple was destroyed by Neo-Babylonian invaders in 587 BC.

The Second Temple was later erected in its place by about 516 BC, until it was toppled by the Romans in 70 AD.

Following an Arab conquest in the seventh century, the site became a holy place of worship for Muslims, who built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock – the third holiest place in the world of Islam.

Then in the early 12th century, after Christian crusaders took hold of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount became a seat for the Knights Templar.

The city was eventually taken back by Saladin, the sultan of Egypt and Syria who waged war against the crusaders.

Today, the Temple Mount is also known as the Al-Aqsa Compound or the Haram esh-Sharif and is administered by a Waqf or Islamic trust.

Because the three Abrahamic faiths have not always seen eye-to-eye in the past, who should have access to the Temple Mount has been an issue of great dispute.

According to some, there is no definitive archaeological record outside of the Bible of Solomon’s Temple ever standing where the Temple Mount is today.

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Professor Meyer, however, believes Sir Charles’s accidental discovery could shed more light on the dispute by fulfilling a prophecy laid out in the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew.

He said: “It is possible that the stone broke when it was thrown off the top of the Temple Mount by the Romans in 70 AD thus fulfilling the prophecy of Jesus that the Temple would be completely demolished and ‘not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down’.

“However it was broken, this 8’ long stone is unlike all others that the Roman threw down when they destroyed the Temple; it has a Hebrew inscription upon it.

“Because the inscription is incomplete, its interpretation is uncertain, though it likely says ‘to the place of trumpeting…’

“This discovery confirms the testimony of Josephus the first-century Jewish historian who states that the Jewish priests had a designated place to stand on the Temple Mount from which to sound a shofar or trumpet marking the beginning and end of the Sabbath.”

The sounding of the horn at the Temple Mount has also been traditionally used for other religious ceremonies and military occasions.

Professor Meyer added: “The claims are false which state that there is not the smallest indication of the existence of a Jewish temple on this place in the past and the Temple Mount was never there.

“Archaeology, ancient texts like Josephus and the Bible agree and once again irresistibly demonstrate that a Jewish Temple once stood on the Temple Mount.

“‘The Trumpeting Place Inscription’ is now on display for the world to behold at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.”

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