History Disappearing from the Temple Mount?

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For the past few weeks, the Temple Mount has been the scene of clashes between rock-throwing Palestinians and Israeli riot police. But some less visible activity on the Temple Mount may be just as troubling.

The Temple Mount is a treasure trove of Jerusalem's history. But some of that history may be disappearing.

"It's a crime, a crime against science and maybe a crime against humanity, but I believe it's a crime to destroy something like this," archaeologist Peretz Reuven said.

Reuven is an archaeologist and an expert on the wooden beams of ancient Jerusalem. He's studied, photographed, and documented many of these ancient beams.

"It's so rare that beams in the Middle East survive so many years. In places like Jerusalem they are very, very rare," Reuven saud. "At least two of them gave fantastic dating. They gave dating of around the 10 Century B.C."

This means some of these wooden beams date back 3,000 years, to the time of King Solomon and others to the Roman or Byzantine periods.

Some are cedars from Lebanon, others are cypress or oak. Many have distinctive carvings. Some have questioned how these can survive so long.

"If they are not outside in the rain and the sun, they could survive for thousands of years, if it's in a building," Reuven said. "So we believe that those beams have been removed and reused from one building to another building."

But Reuven fears many of the beams he's documented, not those already in museums, have been discarded or even destroyed. He says he cannot find them any more on the Temple Mount.

CBN News saw evidence of workmen burning wood on the Temple Mount. We contacted the Islamic authorities on the Temple Mount about the burning. A spokesman denied any burning was taking place. Instead, he said any burning would be dangerous on the Temple Mount.

But Reuven fears the wooden beams he's documented, beams that span Jerusalem's history, may have literally gone up in smoke.

"I feel very angry and very sad," he said. Reuven also said the destruction may not necessarily be politically motivated, but simply a matter of negligence or ignorance.

Whatever the reason, he says it's a crime that one of Jerusalem's treasures may have been lost to the world.

*Original broadcast March 18, 2010. 

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