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An interdisciplinary team from the Weizmann Institute and the Israel Antiquities Authority has used “microarchaeology,” collecting and carbon-dating minuscule samples taken from ancient mortar to identify when Wilson’s Arch at the Temple Mount was constructed.  Their study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE in an article entitled, “Radiocarbon dating and microarchaeology untangle the history of Jerusalem's Temple Mount: A view from Wilson's Arch.”  Throughout the years, various dates had been proposed for the construction of Wilson’s Arch, named after the 19th century geographer Charles Wilson who surveyed Jerusalem.  Some thought it was constructed in the early Roman era (before AD 70), others believed it was built in the mid-Roman period (1st or 2nd century) and still others held to the theory that it was constructed in the early Islamic period, 600 years later.  Researchers were able to settle this dispute by carbon-date charred seeds in the mortar between the stones that was once a part of the original structure, not added later.  The results showed that Wilson’s Arch was constructed during the early Roman period under King Herod, and was originally 7.5 meters wide.  The bridge was expanded several decades later becoming 15 meters wide.  The new methodology and technology associated with “microarchaeology” has the potential of dating monumental structures throughout the ancient world.


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