In the accompanying article Stephen J. Adler stresses that, although Israel has exercised sovereignty over Jerusalem since 1967, no archaeological survey has been conducted on the Temple Mount. A survey would not involve excavations, nor would it damage or change any existing installation or monument. A survey would involve only looking and recording—giving all who are interested in this holy site a precise picture of what is there, so as to better understand the ancient remains.
One might suppose that the reason no such survey has been undertaken by Israel’s Antiquities Authority is that the Muslim authorities who control the Temple Mount have objected to such a survey.
Yet, according to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, archaeologists from the Authority, who accompanied three Israeli Supreme Court justices on an inspection tour of the Temple Mount in connection with the lawsuit described in Adler’s article, “claim they [archaeologists from the Antiquities Authority] regularly inspect the [Temple] Mount.”
If that is so, why haven’t they conducted an archaeological survey of the Temple Mount?
Antiquities Authority archaeologists, according to the Jerusalem Post story, “praise the Waqf [the Muslim religious council] for restoration work it carries out in ancient Islamic structures in the area.” What does the Antiquities Authority say to the Waqf about the changes made on the Temple Mount, as described and pictured in the accompanying article, changes that have obliterated evidence critical to continuing scholarly efforts to understand the archaeological history of the area and its structures?
We believe the Antiquities Authority should make every effort to conduct a thorough archaeological survey of the Temple Mount and work with the Waqf to ensure that before any additional changes in the Temple Mount are made, a complete record of existing conditions is available.