Today we learned of another archaeological discovery that offsets this criticism we face:
Ancient Golden Treasure Found at Foot of Temple Mount
“Ophel Treasure” includes gold medallion with Menorah, Torah and Shofar etchings
In summer excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount, Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar made a stunning discovery: two bundles of treasure containing thirty-six gold coins, gold and silver jewelry, and a gold medallion with the menorah (Temple candelabrum) symbol etched into it. Also etched into the 10-cm medallion are a shofar (ram’s horn) and a Torah scroll...Dr. Mazar said: “We have been making significant finds from the First Temple Period in this area, a much earlier time in Jerusalem’s history, so discovering a golden seven-branched Menorah from the seventh century CE at the foot of the Temple Mount was a complete surprise.”...The gold treasure was discovered in a ruined Byzantine public structure a mere 50 meters from the Temple Mount’s southern wall...one bundle was carefully hidden underground while the second bundle was apparently abandoned in haste and scattered across the floor.
Given the date of the items and the manner in which they were found, Mazar estimates they were abandoned in the context of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE. After the Persians conquered Jerusalem, many Jews returned to the city and formed the majority of its population, hoping for political and religious freedom. But as Persian power waned, instead of forming an alliance with the Jews, the Persians sought the support of Christians and ultimately allowed them to expel the Jews from Jerusalem...“It would appear that the most likely explanation is that the Ophel cache was earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue, at a location that is near the Temple Mount,” said Dr. Mazar.
...said Lior Sandberg, numismatics specialist at the Institute of Archaeology. “The thirty-six gold coins can be dated to the reigns of different Byzantine emperors, ranging from the middle of the fourth century CE to the early seventh century CE,” said Sandberg.
Found with the coins were a pair of large gold earrings, a gold-plated silver hexagonal prism and a silver ingot. Remnants of fabric indicated that these items were once packaged in a cloth purse similar to the bundle that contained the menorah medallion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Monday, 9 September 2013), telephoned Hebrew University's Dr. Eilat Mazar following the finding – in archaeological excavations at the foot the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – of a gold treasure including the images of a seven-branched menorah, a shofar and a Torah scroll.
Prime Minister said, "This is a magnificent discovery. Nationally, it attests to the ancient Jewish presence and to the sanctity of the place; this is as clear as the sun and it is tremendous. It is interesting that even then, over 500 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, we see the menorah in an original illustration. This is historic testimony, of the highest order, to the Jewish People's link to Jerusalem, to its land and to its heritage. This is very moving. This find is the essence of our heritage – menorah, shofar, Torah scroll. The essence of the Jewish People could not be any more succinct and clear. This is a wonderful gift to the Jewish People. Thank you."
Dr. Mazar said, "We do not always witness an archaeological find that speaks so clearly. The archaeological work was outstanding. It was very professional. This cannot be denied. I thank you personally. I am moved by your interest and involvement in antiquities and heritage."
and a pectoral observation.
And an Islamist denial view:
Israeli claims treasures found in the vicinity of Jewish Far Mosque
The " Al-Aqsa Foundation for the preservation and heritage " said that " attempts to falsify effects and Islamic civilization...the machinations contrary to the truth and aimed at the heart of the reality on the ground."...[this is a] "campaign fraud that led archaeologists belonging to the Antiquities Authority false , politicized and goal from behind, trying to prove the existence of heritage Jew...[to] confirm novel temple is located by the belief that the bottom of the Al - Aqsa mosque."
...Mr. Abdel Razek careful , "The archaeologists Israelis trying day after day to install historical right in Jerusalem and the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque evidence flimsy and worthless and can not be adopted as a document historic , because what the Israeli establishment in Jerusalem and the area around Al-Aqsa
Mosque is an attempt to impose control and sovereignty with all strength...under the same goal of "achieving sovereignty,"...devoid of objectivity . "