Dating archaeological finds
He approached the engineers who had built his new house, asking if he and his wife could conduct an archaeological dig underneath.They told him that if an excavation upset the stability of the land, it could cause the neighborhood to slide down the hill. Engineers came up with a pricey plan to construct a restraining wall held down by steel anchors which would secure his neighbors' homes.The first find: a bronze key ring from the Second Temple period (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency)Soon after, they came across an abundance of ancient archaeological treasures.Among them: the wall of a 2,000-year-old home, two mikvehs (Jewish ritual baths), arrowheads possibly used by Jews defending themselves from the Romans, a Byzantine water cistern, an ivory pen and an ink well. Sixty feet below, they found empty burial chambers believed to be at least 2,600 years old, dated to the First Temple."The Siebenberg excavation is not only a monument to determination and plain bull-headedness, but an engineering and structural marvel," wrote Biblical Archaeology Review in a 1982 article about the project.
A wealthy man, Siebenberg was able to fund the project independently, according to media accounts 30 years ago, and to guarantee his neighbors that he would pay for any damage the dig might inflict on their homes.So the wall was built and the Siebenbergs were able to embark on their treasure hunt.When Miriam and Theo Siebenberg purchased a plot of land for their new home in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City that Israel had just a few years before captured from Jordan, they had no idea of the antiquity treasures dating back from Jesus' time and before that lay underneath.Before the Siebenbergs built their house in a neighborhood where archaeological finds were regularly cropping up, Israeli Department of Antiquities inspectors examined the site, but found nothing of historical significance that would have stopped construction.Descending into history at the Siebenberg House (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi/Tazpit News Agency)In 1970, they moved into the new home and were soon to discover how wrong the inspectors had been.