The Emek Zurim Sifting Project or Temple Mount Sifting Project (also known as the Ein Zurim Sifting Project and Ein Tzurim Sifting Project; also formerly known as the Temple Mount Salvage Operation) is an opportunity to be an archaeologist take part in sifting through debris collected from the Temple Mount. You are pretty much guaranteed to find something.
The origins of the project began in 1999, when the Muslim Waqf (a Jerusalem-based Islamic trust) unlawfully dug about 9,000 tons of soil and waste from Temple Mount. Unbeknownst to them, the same tons of soil and “waste” also lay hidden valuable artifacts. Alarmed, archeologists and other citizens rushed to the site and began rescuing truly valuable finds from mounds of dirt. The treasures they found included ancient coins and jewelry, as well as clay fragments from the days of the First and Second Temples.
The debris — consisting of more than 350 truckloads of soil — was then moved to several locations. While the officials from the Israel Antiquities Authority inspected and sampled the debris, no full-scale excavation followed. In 2004, a permit was granted to move the tremendous heaps of debris to a more secure location, which is the Emek Zurim National Park — and this was where the “sifting project” started.
The Emek Zurik Sifting Project has been operating with the help of crowd-sourcing. The most significant difference between Emek Zurim Sifting Project and the other archeological project is the involvement of volunteers — including tourists — the help sift the debris for valuable archeological items. Therefore, it is the possibly the only archeological project that is the most exposed to the public. People with little or no archeological background can participate in the recovery and study of the artifacts that have been sifted through the debris from Temple Mount.
If you are dreaming to become an archaeologist someday or just someone who has a knack for finding buried treasures, the Emek Zurim Sifting Project guarantees an awesome archaeology experience!
Israel is a land of religion, rich culture, and several centuries’ worth of history. It’s not so surprising that a more number of valuable archaeological treasures might be just lying beneath your feet, waiting to be unearthed. If you’re planning to go to Israel, don’t forget to include debris-sifting in Emek Zurim in your travel bucket list!
The Ein Zurim National Park (Emek Zurim National Park) is just adjacent to Mount Scorpus campus of the Hebrew University. It allows you to become an archeologist for a day and have the chance to (literally) touch a piece of Israel’s ancient history.
We’re sure that a lot of you would like to get your hands dirty in sifting through archeologically rich debris from Temple Mount! But as a start, here is a couple of things that you should know about this project
- The sifting activity runs about two hours
- Everyone is encouraged to join the sifting activity — even younger children will find it really fun!
- It doesn’t require heavy physical exertion, so sift through the rubble as long as your energy can take it!
For more details see Emek Zurim.