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The story of the Temple Mount is the story of Jerusalem itself. A holy site to the three largest monotheistic religions, it is one of the most concentrated archaeological sites in the world. Yet, for political reasons, it has never been excavated.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project’s finds constitute the first-ever archaeological data originating from below the Temple Mount’s surface. Without being able to publish, it will be as if our 500,000 artifacts had never been found. Our research has the ability to challenge theories, clarify understandings, and present the factual data about the Temple Mount: but only if it is shared with the scientific community and the public.

Lack of access to the Temple Mount breeds ignorance and misinformation about its history and compounds the controversies surrounding it. Our project began in 1999 when the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement conducted illegal renovations on the Temple Mount and disposed over 9,000 tons of dirt mixed with invaluable archaeological artifacts. Innumerable artifacts were destroyed or neglected, veritable treasures that would have provided a rare glimpse of the region’s rich history.

In a bold move, two of our archaeologists retrieved the matter from a makeshift garbage dump, and in 2004, they started sifting it. Their initiative became the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) and has grown into a project of international significance. With the help of nearly 200,000 volunteers, thousands of valuable finds have been discovered. These artifacts, the first to originate from beneath the Temple Mount, shed light on the long history of this sacred site, which has significance for half the world’s population.

Some of the extraordinary artifacts found by the Sifting Project

Some rare artifacts found by the Sifting Project

We at the TMSP have worked intensively for the past 11 years to give unprecedented access to the archaeology of the Temple Mount. Our finds enrich the discussion on Jerusalem’s past. Yet, there is much work left to be done if we want to unearth the site’s full story and share it with the world.

We now turn to you, the general public all over the world, to help fund this important work by giving a symbolic contribution in the equivalent of a biblical half-shekel to help us fulfill our mission. Here is your chance to take part in revealing Jerusalem’s ancient past.

Help save Jerusalem’s archaeological treasures:

DONATE for the future to save the past 

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The Temple Mount Sifting Project in a nutshell

For thousands of years, the Temple Mount has been an important and sacred site for three of the world’s monotheistic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

According to the Bible, the Temple Mount is a place where heaven and earth meet, an epicenter of religious and national life from which the word of God is spread to the world (Isaiah 2: 2-4).

Despite the fact that the Temple Mount is mentioned numerous times in the Bible and in other important ancient sources, much of its past remains a mystery. This is because no archaeological excavation has ever taken place on the site. The absence of archaeological data has resulted in many unresolved historical questions. Although many scholars (including Muslim scholars) assert that the Jewish Temples were located on the site without a doubt, in recent decades Palestinian Muslim leaders have begun denying their existence at the site.

This tenuous situation peaked in 1999, when the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement bulldozed a large pit on the Temple Mount for the construction of an entrance to an ancient underground structure which was converted to a mosque. Israeli antiquities law requires a salvage excavation before construction at archaeological sites, thus these actions were illegal. Making matters worse, approximately 400 truckloads – 9,000 tons – of soil saturated with priceless archaeological artifacts were dumped as garbage in the nearby Kidron Valley.

Heavy machinery used for digging a new entrance to “Solomon’s Stables” (November 1999). This work was done without archaeological supervision, removing 9000 tons of earth, rich with ancient artifacts.

Archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira understood that this discarded earth represented a rare glimpse at the past, despite the fact that it had been wrenched from its archaeological context. (The exact location and way in which artifacts are excavated are the basic parameters for evaluating their archaeological significance.)

In 2004, Barkay and Dvira removed truckloads of dirt from the debris dumped in the Kidron Valley and began a large-scale sifting project to recover treasures that were slated for the garbage. In doing so, they established the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP), with the goal of rescuing ancient artifacts and conducting research to enhance our understanding of the archeology and history of the Temple Mount.

The ancient artifacts retrieved by the TMSP provide valuable and previously inaccessible information about this important and contested site. In response to the archaeological challenges posed by the endeavor, our team of experts has implemented innovative methodologies and technologies for studying the finds. For example, we employ advance quantitative and statistical methods that reestablish the archaeological context of the finds.

Volunteers sifting at our sifting site in Emek Tzurim National Park.

Volunteers sifting at our sifting site in Emek Tzurim National Park.

In 11 years, the project has become a major global educational and historical endeavor, with the support of nearly 200,000 volunteers from around the world. This is a number exceeding all other archaeological projects in the world. The public’s help has proven critical for the operation and advancement of the project and attests to the importance of what is being revealed.

This idea is vividly expressed in the Book of Psalms:

“For your servants have cherished her stones, and have redeemed her dust” (Psalms 102:14-15)

Ultimately, the Temple Mount Sifting Project is the closest anyone has come to excavating the Temple Mount itself.

Now we are inviting you to be part of the next phase of the project. Please help us fund the analysis and publication of the project’s finds. Publishing the results of our work will shed more light on the long history of this sacred site and will contribute to the resolution of debates related to this site.

What have you found so far?

Every bucket of earth we sift contains ancient artifacts representing the Temple Mount’s rich and diverse 3000 year history. The most common finds are pottery fragments, glass vessel pieces, metal objects, animal bones, worked stones and mosaic tesserae.

In addition to these general categories, there are many fascinating finds, such as fragments of stone vessels, jewelry, beads, terracotta figurines, arrowheads and other weaponry, weights, clothing accessories, gaming pieces and dice, bone and shell inlays, furniture decorations, ornaments, bone and ivory objects, and fragments of inscriptions on stone and pottery.

Various pieces of jewelry from different periods. Materials include semi-precious stones, glass, bronze, silver and gold.

Various pieces of jewelry from different periods. Materials include semi-precious stones, glass, bronze, silver and gold.

We have also recovered elaborate architectural remains, including fragments of columns and their capitals, fragments of mosaic floors, Opus Sectile floor tiles, frescoes (colored wall plaster pieces) and glazed wall tiles.

To date, the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) has uncovered more than 5,000 coins, ranging from tiny silver coins from the 4th century BCE to coins minted in modern times. Among them are very rare and exciting coins such as the silver half-shekel discussed in greater detail below.

Selected coins from the Second Temple Period

Selected coins from the Second Temple period

Although the earth excavated from the Temple Mount was moved from one place to another several times, it was not completely mixed. Consequently, many of the finds remain in context-associated clusters. This will allow us to learn more about the context of the finds through the appropriate application of quantitative analysis.

Once the sorting and analysis process is completed, the data will help provide fresh insights into the archaeology and history of the Temple Mount.

Bronze arrowhead dated to the 10th century BCE, the time of King Solomon. Arrowheads from this period are rarely found in Israel.

From the First Temple period (1000 to 586 BCE, from King David to the destruction of the First Temple) we have recovered an abundance of pottery fragments originating from bowls, pots, jars, and jugs, as well as chalices, stands, rattles and other unique objects.

Some of the finds date to the 10th-9th centuries BCE, the time of King Solomon, builder of the First Temple, and his successors. These finds are rare in Jerusalem, and they have brought forth critical evidence in the heated debate about the size of Jerusalem in this period. Some scholars doubt that the Temple Mount was annexed to Jerusalem during the 10th century BCE. They suggest that Jerusalem was not a capital city but rather a small village. Our finds contradict this minimalist assertion and confirm the Biblical account regarding Jerusalem during this period.

The TMSP found a large number of terracotta figurine fragments. Most are zoomorphic quadruped legs (probably horses) and torso parts. Others are pillared female figurine fragments. Scholars have widely debated the figurines’ symbolism and function. Some see them as means to evoke a goddess during prayers for fertility, while others have associated them with healing and protection. We found them all fragmented and they appear to have been intentionally broken in antiquity. Some scholars have associated this phenomenon with the reforms of King Josiah at the end of the 7th century BCE, which included the smashing of idols (2 Kings 23: 4-13; 2 Chron. 34: 3-5).

The sifting also yielded a group of stone weights of the shekel series. No coinage system existed at this time, so trade was done using these weights for weighing precious metals. Some of the weights found are less than a shekel unit and represent weight units of gera (20 or 24 gera to a shekel).

Other finds from this period include weaponry items such as sling stones and arrowheads. Among them are several arrowheads commonly found in Judah which date to the mid-late First Temple period. One very rare bronze arrowhead is dated to the 10th century BCE, the time of King Solomon. Arrowheads from this period are rarely found. This one, the first of its type found in Jerusalem, may attest to the existence of an armed force on the Temple Mount. Another distinctive arrowhead found by the project was a bronze Irano-Schythic triple-bladed type used by the Babylonian army that conquered Judah and destroyed the First Temple.

Inscribed artifacts include dozens of ostraca (inscribed pottery) fragments and 25 clay seal impressions (bullae). One seal impression bears the Hebrew names ליהו… and אִמֶר, meaning “(Belonging to) […]lyahu (son of) Immer”. Immer was the name of a priestly family mentioned in the books of Jeremiah and Chronicles.

This seal impression is the first ancient Hebrew inscription ever found from the Temple Mount and is the first piece of evidence attesting to priests’ administrative functions in the First Temple. Other finds include a rare cone-shaped seal from the time of King Solomon depicting two animals, a black stone seal depicting a gazelle, and a seal made of lapis lazuli, a semi-precious gem stone.

A 7th century BCE seal impression with ancient Hebrew writing, This seal impression is the first ancient Hebrew inscription ever found on the Temple Mount and is evidence of the administrative activity in the First Temple.

 

During the Second Temple period (515 BCE to 70 CE) the Temple and its esplanade underwent several construction projects, primarily during the reign of King Herod and his descendants. The finds from this period include numerous pottery shards, especially from cooking pots, and many burnt livestock bones. These finds may be linked to the massive pilgrimages to the Temple described in written sources. The sifting also yielded fragments of architectural members that may be the remains of magnificent porticos that encircled the Temple Mount, or perhaps even remains of the Temple itself!

A very illuminating find is the collection of more than one thousand fragments of floor tiles in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

A fragment of an elaborately decorated frieze. The design is of an acanthus leaf typical of Herodian architecture. The stone has burn marks and may have originated in the Temple itself!

A fragment of an elaborately decorated frieze. The design is of an acanthus leaf typical of Herodian architecture. The stone has burn marks and may have originated in the Temple itself!.

These are identified as floor tiles used in a paving technique known in the Roman world as opus sectile, in which the tiles were assembled in various ways to form rich geometric patterns. The writings of Flavius Josephus testify that this technique was used as ornamentation for the open courts that surrounded the Temple:

Those entire courts that were exposed to the sky were laid with stones of all sorts (War. 5 5:2)

Josephus’ description is completely consistent with our finds and allows us to suggest a comprehensive reconstruction of the patterns of the Temple Mount floors.

We also recovered Roman period arrowheads that may originate from the Roman siege before the destruction of the Temple. The sifted earth contains large amounts of ash from repeated conflagrations. This, too, may attest to the Roman destruction of the Temple.

Floor tiles of various shapes, colors and sizes that were used in the opus Sectile Roman Paving technique in royal structures. This type of floor is mentioned in the writings of Flavius Josephus regarding the floor of the open courts that surrounded the Temple.

Floor tiles of various shapes, colors and sizes which were used in the opus sectile Roman Paving technique in royal structures. This type of floor is mentioned in the writings of Flavius Josephus regarding the floor of the open courts that surrounded the Temple.

A suggested reconstruction of the Temple courts according to Flavius Josephus’ writings and the floor tiles found at the Sifting Project.

A suggested reconstruction of the Temple courts according to Flavius Josephus’ writings and the floor tiles found at the Sifting Project.

Arrowheads from the Second Temple period.

Arrowheads from the Second Temple period.

The finds from the Late Roman period (70 to 324 CE) reflect the pagan nature of the site under Roman control. These finds include coins, pottery, gaming pieces, and evidence for a bone tools workshop at the site.

Bone and ivory dice common to the Roman period. Jewish law from that exact time, per the Mishnah, disqualifies as a legal witness any person who plays with dice (Sanhedrim 24b).

The TMSP has uncovered rich archaeological remains from the  Byzantine period (324 to 638 CE). These include mosaic tesserae, roof tiles, fragments of Corinthian pillar capitals, church chancel screens and numerous coins. The pottery includes many oil lamps, some bearing misspelled Greek inscriptions, and others emblazoned with a cross or stylized cruciform lamp handles. An important group of crucifixes and cross-shaped pendants of various styles and materials was also found. On some of them the image of Jesus appears in relief or incised.

The abundance of finds from this period challenges the standard assumption that the Temple Mount was deserted and devoid of structures during this period.

Byzantine period marble and limestone architectural fragments.

Byzantine period marble and limestone architectural fragments.

A very large percentage of the finds come from the Early Islamic period (638 to 1099 CE). In this period the name of the site was changed to Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). The Dome of the Rock was built by the Umayyad Khalif Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan in 691 CE as a shrine to commemorate the spot where Solomon’s Temple once stood. Later on, in 705-714 CE, his son al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik built the Al-Aqsa mosque at the southern edge of the Haram al-Sharif above the ruins of a Byzantine structure.

Gilded glass mosaic tesserae from the Early Islamic period removed from the Dome of the Rock exterior walls during later renovations.

Gilded glass mosaic tesserae from the Early Islamic period which were removed from the Dome of the Rock exterior walls during later renovations.

These edifices were renovated in later periods. During the 16th century CE, the magnificent exterior gilded mosaics of the Dome of the Rock were replaced with decorated glazed wall tiles. The floor tiles of the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain were replaced in modern times. These renovations included the removal of earlier architectural elements and the construction debris was dumped on the eastern side of the Temple Mount. Accordingly, the TMSP has recovered tens of thousands of gilded glass tesserae cubes originating from the mosaics on the exterior walls of the Dome of the Rock, as well as many engraved marble architectural elements from other structures. Some of these architectural fragments were used within Umayyad structures, though they originated from the Byzantine or even Second Temple periods.

In addition, we recovered inscribed pottery, mother-of-pearl inlays, jewelry, gaming pieces, glass and metal weights with inscriptions, and many coins (including gold ones) and inscribed stones from this period.

The finds from the TMSP greatly contribute to the archaeological and historical research of the Temple Mount during the Crusader period (1099 to 1187 CE). We discovered the biggest and most varied collection of silver coins ever found in Jerusalem from this period; among them are extremely rare coins and a one-of-a-kind Knights Templar medallion. The Crusader finds include many cruciform pendants, pottery and architectural remains. Many opus sectile floor tiles -that were installed in the Dome of the Rock and dismantled in later periods – were recovered in the sifting, enabling us to replicate the elaborate floor of the Dome of the Rock during the Crusaders’ times.

In scholarly texts, the Temple Mount has been commonly associated with the Knights Templar in this period. The Knights used the Al-Aqsa Mosque as their headquarters and turned the large southeastern substructure into stables for their horses, calling it “Solomon’s Stables.” The earth we are sifting originated in the area of Solomon’s Stables and has yielded many remnants of Crusader activity, including arrowheads, horseshoe nails of typical European medieval cavalry and armor scales. These finds constitute the first archaeological evidence for the Knights Templar’s utilization of Solomon’s Stables.

Crusader era iron horseshoe nails that attest to horses of the knights Templar in Solomon’s Stables.

Crusader era iron horseshoe nails which belonged to the horses of the knights Templar that resided in Solomon’s Stables.

We have recovered numerous architectural elements from the Later Islamic periods (1187 to 1917 CE). Among the most notable finds are the glazed tiles used by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to replace the original glass mosaics which ornamented the exterior walls of the Dome of the Rock. Moreover, we have found thousands of coins from the Mameluke and Ottoman periods, which contribute significantly to the study of coins from this period. This is also true regarding the abundant pottery from this period. We plan to publish these finds specifically in great detail. This is significant because most excavations tend to neglect later periods or publish the finds hastily. Our report aims to be the most extensive typology study published on pottery from the late antiquity (Medieval – Ottoman) periods.

Other finds from these periods include many jewelry pieces, clothing articles, military badges and insignia, old musket rounds and flint lock stones, an enormous number of Ottoman tobacco pipes, and much more.

Ottoman personal bronze seals. Among them is the seal of Abd al-Fattah al-Tamimi, who served as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the early 18th century.

Ottoman personal bronze seals. Among them is the seal of Abd al-Fattah al-Tamimi, who served as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the early 18th century.

The TMSP has proven to be an unprecedented and inexhaustible source of knowledge on the Temple Mount. Archaeological finds that lay hidden within its soil for thousands of years can now be scientifically analyzed and published for the first time. The results of this endeavor will shed much light on the Temple Mount’s past, its builders and rebuilders, its religious and social significance, its defenders and its conquerors. Today, 11 years into this project, about 70% of the debris removed from the Temple Mount has been sifted. The project requires more funds to continue sifting many more tons of removed earth and to find many more unique and important artifacts.

Why should I support this research?

for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isaiah 56: 7)

The Temple Mount is sacred to more than half of the world’s population and three major religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. According to the Bible, it is a place where heaven and earth meet, which was designated to be an epicenter for all facets the religious and national life,  and an anchor point from which the word of God is spread out to the world. Today it is Judaism’s holiest site, where the First and Second Temples once stood, and remains the focal point of Jewish prayers. For Christians, it is home to the Temple that Jesus knew. It is the third holiest site in Islam, the location of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Anything that happens on the Temple Mount resonates throughout the entire world, and yet due to political and religious sensitivity, no archaeological excavation has ever taken place there. Much of its historic past remains a mystery.

Map of the Old City of Jerusalem with the major excavated areas in the last 150 years. Note the large blank rectangle of the Temple Mount where no systematic excavation has ever taken place.

Map of the Old City of Jerusalem with the major excavated areas in the last 150 years. Note the large blank rectangle of the Temple Mount where no systematic excavation has ever taken place.

From the outset, the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP) was a risky endeavor. We didn’t know what would emerge from the truckloads of dirt or how to undertake this unique research. Despite the initial concerns, our efforts – and those of our dedicated volunteers – have proven to be amazingly worthwhile.

The discovery of seals and seal impressions has shed new light on the administrative activities that took place in the First Temple, contradicting minimalist claims that the site was a mere village in the 10th century BCE, and confirming the biblical account that the Temple Mount was part of the city during that time. Opus sectile paving stones match Josephus’ descriptions of the elegant architectural style of the Herodian renovations to the Second Temple. Hundreds of thousands of mosaic tesserae and other architectural elements prove that the Temple Mount was occupied – not deserted as was previously believed – during the Byzantine period. In recent years, Palestinian political leaders have invented new claims completely denying the existence of the First and Second Temples at the site, while our finds, and most scholars, prove otherwise.

The TMSP is now focusing its efforts on the enormous tasks of processing and studying the finds and preparing them for scientific publication. Unpublished finds have little value for archaeological research. It is as though they had never been found. Presently, more than half a million finds are still waiting to be processed and analyzed in our laboratory. We cannot allow this to be the fate of the finds from such an important site as the Temple Mount.

That is why we ask you to support our efforts to bring to light the history of the Temple Mount. Help us prevent these antiquities and their history from being lost to illegal construction. Help us resolve scholarly and political debates about the long history of this important site by publishing the truth found in the archaeological record.

The publication of TMSP’s finds represent an opportunity for meaningful and educated dialogue that has the potential to reduce political conflicts. Ignorance feeds conflict and dispute, while knowledge helps us better understand our common past.

Where does my donation go?

More than half a million finds await processing and analysis in our laboratory. The study and publication of these finds are enormous tasks that require diligence and the expertise of many scholars.

Your contributions will be fund:

  • Highly-trained researchers: Each artifact category and period requires a specialist in that field. Our artifacts span dozens of categories, and a comprehensive publication of our finds requires hiring many specialists.
  • Scientific analysis: Evaluation by Carbon-14 dating, mineralogical analysis, artifacts preservation, computerized statistical analysis and comparative typological data mining all require sophisticated expertise and highly specialized equipment.
  • Photography and media: High resolution studio photography, 3-D laser scanning, scientific drawing, sorting, classifying, compiling, editing and printing the final reports will help bring our new knowledge to the public.

25

Why are you asking for a half-shekel?

The Temple Mount Sifting Project is all about the spirit of volunteering and taking responsibility in public matters. During the Second Temple period, each person expressed his commitment to the Temple by contributing a half-shekel of silver annually to fund its operation. We are fortunate to have recovered one such coin minted during the first year of the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome (66/67 CE). This rare find – our own silver half-shekel – has inspired us to launch our Half-Shekel Crowdfunding website through which we can all join in shedding light on the unknown story of the Temple Mount.

This tax was inspired by the Biblical obligation in the book of Exodus:

Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the holy shekel; half a shekel as an offering to the Lord. (Exodus 30: 13)

At the end of the Second Temple period this Temple Tax was paid using special silver half-shekel coins probably minted on the Temple Mount.

A rare silver half-shekel coin found in the sifting. Obverse: A chalice from the Temple topped by the letter aleph, meaning “Year One”. Around it are the words “half a shekel”. Reverse: A branch with three pomegranates surrounded by the words “Holy Jerusalem”. These coins were used for paying the annual Temple tax according to the Biblical commandment in Exodus 30:13-15.

A rare silver half-shekel coin found in the sifting. Obverse: A chalice from the Temple topped by the letter aleph, meaning “Year One”. Around are the words “half a shekel”. Reverse: A branch with three pomegranates surrounded by the words “Holy Jerusalem”. These coins were used for paying the annual Temple tax according to the Biblical commandment in Exodus 30:13-15.

What is the current value of the half-shekel?

Its value can be calculated by examining its purchasing power in ancient times. The Biblical shekel that was used in the tabernacle was equal to 20 gera. The gera was a laborer’s daily wage. So one half-shekel represented ten days’ wages for a blue-collar worker!

A four gera weight that was found in the sifting (First Temple period)

A four gera weight that was found in the sifting (First Temple period)

We do not expect to receive such sums from everyone, but we hope that you are inspired by the idea that everyone can contribute something to this cause – each person according to their means. People who care about the future of the Temple Mount can assist in revealing its rich past.

In what other ways can I support the project?

Support us by sharing this website and video via social media – on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks. Raising awareness about the Temple Mount Sifting Project in your community, and even around your own dinner table, will help us give voice to the muted history of one of the world’s most sacred sites.

We encourage you to visit our sifting site at Emek Zurim National Park in Jerusalem. Join us in experiencing the excitement of recovering ancient remains of the Temple Mount. Click here to arrange a visit.

The Sifting Project in the media

Below are links to a sample of the many reports about the Sifting Project that have appeared in past years in the media and are accessible online.

Smithsonian Magazine

National Geographic Magazine

Jerusalem Post

Haaretz

Israel Hayom

AP

NY Daily News

YOUR half-shekel contribution will help reveal the story of the Temple Mount. Your assistance is of vital importance.

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January 11th 2016

The Half-Shekel Campaign – Summary and Conclusions

First and foremost, we would like to express our deep gratitude to all those who answered our call and donated to the project and helped disseminate the Campaign. YOUR SUPPORT IS TRULY APPRECIATED. Thank you letters and gifts will be mailed shortly.

Our” Half-Shekel” campaign was launched on September 1st 2015 and lasted for four months. The Temple Mount Sifting Project is all about involving the community, and this campaign was the first time we invited the public to partake in helping fund the project. We chose the crowd funding approach, even though we didn’t know what to expect. This kind of platform, when used by non-profit organizations, is often used to help fund and promote social, medical or political causes, and usually not used for scientific research, let alone for archaeological research although many people find interest and value in it, they still prefer to donate to other causes.

We produced a video with an attempt to tell the story of the sifting project in an interesting and touching way for those who are less-acquainted with the story of the Temple Mount, its history and archaeology, as well as for those who are well acquainted and even for trained archaeologists. We knew that a short video would be essential for it to   become viral, but we weren’t successful   in finding  a way to  consolidate  the story of the project  in addition to explaining our financial needs to the non-aquatint in less than 7 minutes although we managed to have the Hebrew version shorter (5 min).

Eventually the Hebrew video became viral to some extend on Facebook and managed to reach 20 thousand people quite quickly with almost no paid promotion (a total of 27 thousand on both Facebook and YouTube). The English version, which was also available with translation subtitles in many languages, was less successful and eventually reached 50 thousand people (16 thousand people have visited the Half-Shekel Campaign website and more than 270 of them have donated. During the time of this campaign, we eventually managed to raise $35,440.  The donations came mainly from English speaking countries and from Israel, but also from distant parts of the world such as Brazil, Chile, Singapore and other places.

A short while after the inception of the campaign, the political conflict concerning the Temple Mount became a hot topic in the media, and we weren’t sure if it detracted or motivated support of the campaign. We prefer avoiding politics   as much as possible, especially since we are dealing with the most politically sensitive site in Israel, although certain aspects of our research may unavoidably have some political implications. The website has also been translated into Arabic, and attracted a relatively large percentage of visits from Arabic speaking countries, surprisingly, we received only few malicious comments, while hundreds of visitors shared the website and clicked like. Perhaps the scientifically oriented nature of the text helped to some extend to reduce the conflict fed by decisive and ignorant historical claims.

We are still far from reaching the project’s needs, and our funding efforts will proceed. This website will be maintained as a permanent funding website, and we will continue promoting it in various other ways.

You are all invited to continue supporting the project by sending a recurring donation and by sharing the websites of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

With much gratitude,

Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira

 

January 1st, 2016

The campaign is over. Thank you all for your donations and for distributing this website. We will publish a campaign summary in the coming days.

We will send out the all gifts within the coming month.

Donations could still be done on this website (with gifts) or through our weblogs. This website will be redesigned to a permanent fund raising website.

For further updates about the project please visit our weblogs.

 

Happy New Year

The Temple Mount Sifting Project

 

December 27, 201

In three days we’re about to end our current phase of our crowd funding campaign. After that this website will be converted to a permanent website for donations to the Sifting Project. This campaign has been running for the last four months and has managed to reach 75 thousand people who have watched the campaign video (English 47,914; Hebrew: 27,452). The campaign brought about 16,500 visitors (unique visits) to this website. Since our last update we have doubled the Facebook shares, especially in Arabic and Portuguese (see table below), and currently more 3400 people have shared this website! Thank you all!

Up to this point we managed to raise in this campaign $20,676 by 257 donors (the total sum on the website includes also direct donations that were received recently and were not achieved via this campaign). We are pleased to see that we managed to receive support from all corners of the world.

In our next update we will provide a summary to this campaign and details about the phase.

See below the statistics for more detailed and interesting results:

 

Top Website Visitors by Country

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Country Website Visitors Frequency (1 per x Internet Users)
Israel 4,962 1,195
Jordan 526 6,417
Pal. Authority 133 9,774
Iraq 143 18,937
Venezuela 594 24,492
El Salvador 51 34,173
Norway 124 39,483
Honduras 31 51,695
Ukraine 292 57,702
Canada 521 63,340
United States 4,446 68,203
Bolivia 52 76,357
Portugal 86 81,576
Netherlands 177 91,208
Hong Kong 63 91,291
Brazil 1,045 103,180
Australia 204 103,807
Turkey 285 124,066
Belarus 34 142,852
Austria 44 162,163

 

Top Donors by Country

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Country Donors Donors Percentage of Website Visitors
United States 116 2.6%
Israel 90 1.8%
Canada 11 2.1%
United Kingdom 8 2.4%
Australia 7 3.4%
Brazil 3 N/A
Italy 3 N/A
Norway 2 N/A
Austria 2 N/A
Belgium 2 N/A
Netherlands 1 N/A
Turkey 1 N/A
New Zealand 1 N/A
Singapore 1 N/A
Finland 1 N/A
Sweden 1 N/A
Germany 1 N/A
Mexico 1 N/A
Chile 1 N/A

 

Website Visitors by Language

—————————————–

Language Visitors
English 7,291
Hebrew 3,382
Spanish 1,286
Arabic 1,224
Russian 708
French 514
Turkish 338
Korean 274
Chinese-Traditional 153
Chinese -Simplified 126
Norwegian 182
Italian 207
Portuguese 454
German 127
Dutch The Netherlands 141
Farsi Iran 40
Hungarian 53

 

Facebook Shares by Language

—————————————–

Language FB Shares
English 2100
Arabic 353
Spanish 312
Portuguese 200
Hebrew 111
Russian 89
French 63
Turkish 36
Persian 32
Norwegian 19
Chinese (simplified) 19
Korean 16
Italian 16
Chinese (traditional) 12
Deutsch 11
Nederland 10
Hungarian (Magyar) 0
Total 3399

 

December 15, 2015: We are now capable of providing Tax-Deducible receipts from the U.K. as well.

December 12, 2015: See Report in Jerusalem Post: Byzantine-era potsherd from Temple Mount may contain engraving of holy site’s menorah

December 8, 2015:

Three months have passed since we launched the crowdfunding campaign; the current campaign is scheduled to end on Dec 31, 2015. Since we are still far from reaching our final goal, we will probably continue fundraising with this website, but change the format so it will suit an ongoing fundraising campaign and not one that is limited by time.

We would like to update you about several things that we’ve been working on. Many of you have probably already seen the news reports about the “Hezekiah seal” found in the Ophel excavations south of the Temple Mount, which were directed by Dr. Eilat Mazar. This seal impression was found in 2010 at our sifting facility in Tzurim Valley, when we assisted with wet-sifting earth from this excavation. Until recently, the reading of this bulla was ‘לחזקיהו … מלכיהו  (Hezekiyahu ?? Malkiyahu), but when Reut ben-Ariyeh, who studied the seal impressions from the Ophel excavation, noticed a dot between מלכ andיהו , and the unclear letter of the second name, the reading became clear: “Hezekiyah (son of) Ahaz King of Judah”. This is the first time that a Judean king seal or seal impression is found by a controlled archaeological excavation!  We are proud that the Temple Mount Sifting Project took part of this great discovery. Click here to read the press release.

We are about to publish a new article, based on finds from the sifting project, about reconstructing Crusader floors which were situated in the Dome of the Rock. This will be published on Dec 20th in an international conference at Haifa University marking 150 years of the PEF (Palestine Exploration Fund). (Click here to see the full program).

And one last thing for Chanukah – two days ago we published an image of a potsherd with an incised design of what appears to be the Temple Menorah; the potsherd is probably from the Byzantine period. What was the purpose of this drawing? What can we learn from it about the rabbinic medieval interpretation of the Menorah shape? These questions were sent out to our community of followers and supporters whose opinion we cherish. . You are welcome to add your suggestion or comment in our Facebook page or blog.

Happy Chanukah,

The Temple Mount Sifting Project

 

October 26, 2015:

When we launched the campaign 50 days ago, the Hebrew video immediately went viral and reached 10,000 people within three days, while the English video was less successful and reached 3,500 people. Up to date the videos were watched (30 sec views and more) on Facebook and YouTube by 43,797 people.  12,050 people have visited the website and 199 people have donated a total sum of $21,940. We intend to continue the campaign until the end of 2015.

The video has the potential to reach a very wide audience, especially these days when the Temple Mount is in the focus of the news. Since many ignorant comments are being heard in the media and distorted articles are published in major newspapers, this story and archaeological information is essential for establishing an educated debate.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project does not have a political agenda, and as open minded academic researchers we are open minded for any conclusion that can be deducted from the finds. We oppose ignorance. All scientific or academic research eventually serves humanity by helping us make better decisions. If the sifting project finds could help reduce tensions that are rooted by ignorance – we would be happy to serve this goal as well.

It is worthwhile to mention that about 15% of the website visitors are Arab speakers, and there are about 353 shares and hundreds of likes to the Arabic version of the website. It seems like the Arab world is very interested in this story.

 

October 25, 2015

When we launched the campaign 50 days ago, the Hebrew video immediately went viral and reached 10,000 people within three days, while the English video was less successful and reached 3,500 people. Up to date the videos were watched (30 sec views and more) on Facebook and YouTube by 43,797 people.  12,050 people have visited the website and 199 people have donated a total sum of $21,940. We intend to continue the campaign until the end of 2015.

The video has the potential to reach a very wide audience, especially these days when the Temple Mount is in the focus of the news. Since many ignorant comments are being heard in the media and distorted articles are published in major newspapers, this story and archaeological information is essential for establishing an educated debate.

The Temple Mount Sifting Project does not have a political agenda, and as open minded academic researchers we are open minded for any conclusion that can be deducted from the finds. We oppose ignorance. All scientific or academic research eventually serves humanity by helping us make better decisions. If the sifting project finds could help reduce tensions that are rooted by ignorance – we would be happy to serve this goal as well.

It is worthwhile to mention that about 15% of the website visitors are Arab speakers, and there are about 353 shares and hundreds of likes to the Arabic version of the website. It seems like the Arab world is very interested in this story.

 

October 12, 2015

Since our last update – with the organic exposure of the website and some paid ads – we tripled the number of visitors to the website. Up to this point we managed to raise $19,607 by 171 donors. The number of people who viewed the YouTube video (26,759 views) and those who visited the website (10,432 unique visitors) also increased.

There is great interest among Middle Eastern Arabs, leading to more than 300 shares and 500 likes of the Arab version of the website. We are still waiting to see who will be the first one among the Arab supporters to be courageous enough to make a donation.

In our last report Canada was first place but it has now been replaced by the United Kingdom with the highest percent of donors relative to website visitors, followed by Australia.

See below for more interesting results:

 

Top Video Views Frequency by Country*

Country Internet Users YouTube Video Views Frequency (1 per x Internet Users)
Israel 5928772 2630 2254
Palestine Authority 1300000 78 16667
El Salvador 1742832 77 22634
Canada 33000381 1450 22759
Jordan 3375307 146 23119
New Zealand 4162209 167 24923
Costa Rica 2511139 100 25111
Norway 4895885 182 26900
United States 303229759 11223 27019
Australia 21176595 684 30960
Puerto Rico 2027549 64 31680
Singapore 4453859 136 32749
Venezuela 14548421 430 33834
South Africa 24909854 666 37402
Paraguay 2005278 51 39319
Panama 1899892 43 44184
Guatemala 2716781 61 44537
Honduras 1602558 33 48562
Netherlands 16143879 317 50927
Finland 5117660 98 52221
Uruguay 2017280 37 54521
Iraq 2707928 49 55264
Philippines 39470845 624 63255
Ecuador 6012003 90 66800
United Kingdom 57075826 809 70551
Hungary 7388776 101 73156
Malaysia 12150362 164 74088
Bolivia 3970587 51 77855
Chile 11686746 135 86568
Hong Kong 5751357 64 89865
Poland 25666238 278 92325
Sweden 8581261 91 94300
Switzerland 7180749 72 99733
Denmark 5419113 53 102247
Belgium 9441116 91 103749
Colombia 25660725 223 115071
Argentina 24973660 217 115086
Ireland 3817491 33 115682
Dominican Republic 5072674 39 130069
Ukraine 16849008 125 134792

* Not including over 23,000 Facebook views. At this point we cannot access this data categorized per country from Facebook.

                                                     

Top Website Visitors by Country

Country Website Visitors Frequency (1 per x Internet Users)
Israel 2771 2140
Jordan 518 6516
Palestinian Authority 123 10569
Iraq 142 19070
Venezuela 590 24658
El Salvador 49 35568
Norway 83 58987
Ukraine 277 60827
Bolivia 52 76357
Portugal 77 91111
Canada 305 108198
United States 2,413 125665
Hong Kong 44 130713
Turkey 252 140313
Brazil 735 146698
Netherlands 104 155230
Australia 120 176472
South Korea 216 209788
Spain 163 214787
Austria 32 222974
Belgium 39 242080
Taiwan 64 291246
Italy 115 318208
France 131 423125
United Kingdom 126 452983
Egypt 74 544751
Mexico 61 834804
Germany 53 1353350
Russia 50 1688756
India 51 4768606

 

Top Donors by Country

Country Donors per Visitors Rate Donors
United States 3.4% 83
Israel 1.9% 53
Canada 3.0% 9
United Kingdom 4.8% 6
Australia 4.2% 5
Norway N/A 2
Italy N/A 2
New Zealand N/A 1
Netherlands N/A 1
Finland N/A 1
Chile N/A 1
Sweden N/A 1
Brazil N/A 1

 

Website Visitors by Language

Language Visitors
English 4,051
Hebrew 1,728
Spanish 1,231
Arabic 1,117
Russian 495
French 438
Turkish 299
Korean 299
Chinese-Traditional 123
Chinese -Simplified 123
Norwegian 118
Italian 108
Portuguese 106
German 79
Dutch The Netherlands 72
Persian 21
Hungarian 21

 

 Facebook Shares by Language

Language FB Shares
English 1500
Arabic 352
Spanish 152
Hebrew 111
Turkish 35
Persian 32
Russian 27
Norwegian (Norsk Bokmal) 19
Chinese (simplified) 19
Thai 16
Chinese (traditional) 12
French 9
Italian 6
Netherlands 3
German 2
Hungarian (Magyar) 0
Portugese 0

October 5, 2015

We realized that promoting this website will take longer than we expected, so we decided to extend the campaign until December 31st.

September 27, 2015

Jerusalem Post: Jewish history’s greatest archaeological crime

 

September 24, 2015

Rare 3,000-year-old King David era seal discovered by Temple Mount Sifting Project

See full report at our weblog: templemount.wordpress.com

See Media Reports at:

Jerusalem Post

Times of Israel

 

September 22, 2015 – Second Update

Until now the campaign has been going on with organic promotion, and soon we are going to promote the video and the website with paid ads and media news. Now is a good time to see how well we are doing.

Up to this point we managed to raise $17,085 by 116 donors. That’s not much when taking into account the number of people that viewed the video (15562 views) and those that visited the website (3440 unique visitors). It seems like people are really interested in this story, but only a small percentage choose to donate. Our goal is to reach 1 million video views which mean that in order to reach our goal we need to dramatically increase the exposure of the video and the website. We will continue to fundraise through philanthropic foundations and these donations will be marked as “direct” on the funders list.

Following are statistical tables that demonstrate how well the video and the website were received in various countries. We calculated frequencies in relation to each country’s population of internet users. This will allow us to compare our support among various countries.

As you can see below, after Israel, the Canadians have the best score – 1 per 37,931Canadians has seen the video. They also have the best donation rate (5.5% of website visitors). The website is also popular amongst Arab populations.

See below for more interesting results:

Top 20 Video Views Frequency

Country Internet Users Video Views Frequency (1 per x Internet Users)
Israel 5928772 1485 3992
Canada 33000381 870 37931
Norway 4895885 124 39483
New Zealand 4162209 94 44279
United States 303229759 5948 50980
Australia 21176595 413 51275
South Africa 24909854 481 51788
Palestinian Authority 2000000 38 52632
Singapore 4453859 80 55673
Puerto Rico 2027549 30 67585
Finland 5117660 72 71079
Iraq 2707928 29 93377
Netherlands 16143879 169 95526
United Kingdom 57075826 522 109341
Poland 25666238 229 112080
Malaysia 12150362 88 138072
Sweden 8581261 59 145445
Philippines 39470845 247 159801
Belgium 9441116 59 160019
Hong Kong 5751357 35 164324
Switzerland 7180749 39 184122


Top 25 Website Visitors

Country Website Visitors Frequency (1 per x Internet Users)
Israel 1283 4621
Palestinian Authority 111 18018
Iraq 134 20208
Norway 67 73073
Jordan 21 160729
Canada 128 257815
Australia 82 258251
United States 1026 295546
Egypt 67 601665
Switzerland 10 718075
United Kingdom 68 839350
Netherlands 19 849678
Italy 36 1016499
Mexico 50 1018461
Colombia 17 1509454
Argentina 14 1783833
Poland 14 1833303
Spain 16 2188142
France 23 2409973
Germany 24 2988648
Russia 26 3247607
Brazil 13 8294064

 

 Top Donors

Country Donors per Visitors Rate Donors
United States 3.62% 43
Israel 2.11% 41
Canada 5.48% 8
United Kingdom 3.90% 3
Finland 14.29% 2
Chile 16.67% 1
Sweden 14.29% 1
New Zealand 10.00% 1
Brazil 6.67% 1
Netherlands 5.00% 1
Italy 2.33% 1
Norway 1.20% 1
Australia 1.20% 1

 

Website Visitors by Language

Language Visitors
English 2028
Hebrew 512
Arabic 408
Spanish 180
French 83
Norwegian 89
Russian 93
Italian 76
Portuguese 14
Chinese – Simplified 16
Chinese – Traditional 27
German 13
Dutch 8
Persian 9
Hungarian 8
Korean 8
Turkish 7

 

Facebook Shares by Language

Language FB Shares
English 799
Spanish 149
Arabic 116
Hebrew 81
Persian 32
Russian 19
Norwegian 19
Italian 4
Chinese (traditional) 4
Chinese (simplified) 1
Turkish 1
German 0
French 0
Dutch 0
Hungarian (Magyar) 0
Portuguese 0
Korean 0

 

August 31st 2015. First Update

The website was launched on September 1st, and will end on November 27th, 2015. It is currently available in 17 languages! To the best of our knowledge no such crowdfunding campaign – addressing such a wide audience – has ever taken place, and we are also not aware of any archaeological projects that have used this funding method.

The idea to “crowd fund” the Temple Mount Sifting Project was originally suggested by Aran Yardeni about a year ago. He claimed that raising funds in this method would best suit our project, which allows the public to take an active role. The more we thought about it, we realized that in addition to the funding aspect, a crowd funding campaign can be a great tool through which to gain public exposure for the story of the Temple Mount and the Sifting Project.

We quickly realized the high potential of this campaign, and decided to translate the contents to many languages. . We believe that this cause is universal, and are very curious to see how this campaign will be received around the world.

The texts were mostly translated by volunteers. Please let us know if you notice any errors or have any suggestions. We also welcome volunteers who can translate the website to additional languages.

This page will continuously update developments in the campaign, as publish data concerning the exposure and donations from the various countries. Please stay tuned.

Now, let’s see who will gain the title of “‘the first donor on the website Wall of Fame’”.