Zachi Dvira

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Zachi Dvira' 2008

Zachi Dvira (Heb.:יצחק דבירה) (former name: Zachi Zweig) is an Israeli archaeologist from Bar-Ilan university who co-directs the Temple Mount Sifting Project and a researcher of the Temple Mount. He is noted for having been the first person to recognize the archaeological importance of the debris that was removed from Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and initiated a project for systematic sifting of it.[1]

In 1999 Dvira was a student of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. Together with a fellow student, Aran Yardeni, he gathered a few friends and began examining the construction rubble dumped by the Islamic Waqf during the Construction of el-Marwani Mosque (1996–1999) . Just as they began collecting artifacts, they were stopped by inspectors from the Israeli Antiquities Authority. The students managed to retrieve a few artifacts from the dump and displayed them at a conference about new studies on Jerusalem. Their report was followed by a storm in the conference hall. The Antiquities Authority claimed these students are antiquities robbers, but all the archaeologists in attendance deeply supported them and protested against the archaeological destruction of the Temple Mount.

A few days later Zachi Dvira's house was raided by the Antiquities Authority theft unit, and he was detained by the police and accused of conducting antiquities robbery. Charges were pressed against him, but the court quickly dismissed the charges, and asked the prosecution to set aside their accusations. Dr. Gabriel Barkay, one of Israel’s most senior archaeologists, supported the students’ efforts, joined forces with Zachi Dvira, and together they began working towards the establishment of a project for systematically sifting the debris from the Temple Mount. Since the Temple Mount has never been excavated, the artifacts retrieved from the debris could still provide valuable information, even though they are out of context. Most artifacts can be identified and dated by comparison with artifacts found elsewhere in Israel. In addition, since the material is from the Temple Mount, it was expected that many unique artifacts would be found. They raised funds and spent 5 years getting a license to conduct an archaeological dig. In 2004 they obtained the license and 285 truckloads of rubble were moved to a vacant lot on the slopes of Jerusalem's Mount Scopus, where Dvira directs a dig that sifts and examines every bucketful of dirt and rubble removed form the Temple Mount.

The first coin that Dvira and his associates discovered was issued during the First Jewish–Roman War that preceded the Roman destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The ancient Jewish coin is stamped with the Hebrew words "Freedom of Zion."[2]

The most valuable find so far may be is a clay seal impression. The incomplete Hebrew lettering appears to show the name Ge'aliyahu, son of Immer. Immer is the name of a family of temple officials that is mentioned in Jeremiah 20:1.[2]

Dvira has found many evidence of Byzantine remains of structures that existed on the Temple Mount during the Byzantine era. This appears to disprove the idea that the site was abandoned in that period.[2] Major evidence were retrieved by Dvira from the British Mandate Antiquities Department archive.


  1. ^ Biblical Archaeology Review
  2. ^ a b c Matti Friedman, Associated Press (November 17, 2006). "Mideast Holy Site, What Is Treasure?". Fox News. Retrieved January 27, 2010.