Excavations On Hold During Intense Heat
The intense summer heat has led to a slowdown on many archaeological excavations, particularly those in exposed areas. Accordingly, Trail of the Ark has made a switch towards more quiet research methods until the weather becomes more suitable for pursuing the results of more physical efforts.
Early Muslim Leaders & Temple Mount
David Lev’s book The Final Stage, found on Amazon, references the mainly unknown relationship between the first major Muslim invader of the Holy Land, and the besieged Jewish presence in the nation’s capital of Jerusalem. In particular, it mentions the possible intention of the Caliphate Omer to establish a Jewish place of worship on the Temple Mount. Of course, this runs counter to any Islamic claim on this fought over real estate, in the years that followed.
The Ark of the Covenant was the jewel in the crown of the Israelite temple, which stood on that hallowed ground for many centuries. Furthermore, the potential discovery of the Ark could lead to a movement to restore it to that same sacred location. Naturally, extreme Muslim sensitivities cannot be so readily ignored. However, it is feasible to allow historical evidence to speak for itself, in the hope that it might get through to more enlightened souls, regardless of religious dogma.
It is within this framework that Trail of the Ark is closely following a breaking story of the discovery of a once buried mosque in the southern desert region of Israel. What makes this mosque so unique is that it might turn out to be one of the very first built outside of Saudi Arabia, home of the first Muslims? More pertinent as regards our line of enquiry, is the possibility that further light might now be able to illuminate the mindset of the followers of the Caliph Omer, which in turn could help in understanding their attitude towards the Jewish presence in the land.
The key premise of a developing hypothesis rests on the question of Omer’s acceptance of Jewish rights of worship not only throughout a Middle East falling under the hands of his growing mini-empire, but more pertinently, encouraging a place of Jewish worship on the actual Temple Mount itself. Consider for one moment the present day impact of a more radicalized Muslim world being open minded to Jews even standing and muttering silent prayers on the Temple Mount, let alone being comfortable with an actual dedicated synagogue on that site? Those familiar with regional politics know full well that such a thought is akin to igniting a third world war! Yet, the current research into the earliest mindset of Muslim rulers in that region, suggests that such an accepting dogma did prevail. Accordingly, the discovery of this ancient mosque, fitting into the time period of the original Islamic conquest of the Holy Land, provides much potential for further enlightenment regarding this issue.
Before gaining better clarity as to the implications of this discovery it is wise to understand a fundamental policy of later Muslim builders in the region. Any existing building that showed signs of unacceptable worship would have all traces of such practice erased before using the building as a mosque. One example is the ornate mosque in Ramla that had been converted from a pre-existing church. The overhead arches had originally been cross-shaped. Muslim workers tirelessly removed any evidence of that shape before the building was considered suitable for Islamic worship. Alcohol is widely known to be forbidden to all Muslims. Yet what was discovered on this newly explored site near Jericho suggests such strict interpretations may have been a later addition.
Mosque’s Controversial Discovery
Dmitri Baramki, in 1935, excavated the site of what he supposed to be only a Byzantine church. This site is situated close to Jericho, near the Dead Sea. However, a later exploration expands on that initial finding. Michael Jennings of Chicago University challenged not only Baramki’s findings but also other generally widely accepted presumptions. First and foremost, his team discovered evidence that the church had been converted into a mosque, nothing unusual about that. However it gets more interesting when it was noticed that an extensive wine press apparently remained unmolested during the period it was under Muslim domination. Does that suggest a more lenient attitude towards the interpretation by those early inheritors of Islamic values about such matters? It would appear that the answer would be yes. If that is indeed the case, then it would tend to support that developing hypothesis concerning Caliphate Omar’s’ more benign attitude towards the acceptance of Jewish practice, and specially associated with the Temple Mount. The dating on the Islamic presence in that former church brings it within only decades of that first Muslim conquest, with Omer at the helm. Accordingly, it would be interesting to follow further finds related to that excavation.
Trail of the Ark is determined to piece together a series of events connected to the Ark’s journeys, based upon as much scientifically accepted data as possible.
In the process of postulating what the Ark’s discovery might involve today, gaining better clarification of the broad question of Islamic views on the subject is helpful. Given extreme radical views prevailing today, it is considered that an initial step might be one of providing educational material to share with those many Muslims interested in an academic overview that doesn’t undermine their faith system. Accordingly, sharing a better insight into the mindset of those first Muslim rulers in the Holy Land, many revered today with saintly awe, is considered a possible option forward.