About the project
The western slope of the Hinnom Valley, known as the Hinnom Shoulder, was historically the border between the lands of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Jerusalem Foundation supported archeological excavations of the shoulder beginning in 1986, and again in 1994. Finds included six burial caves from the First Temple Period that contained an outstanding wealth of jewelry and other items (more than 1,000 objects were found in one chamber alone) and one of the most important finds ever made in the country: a tiny silver scroll containing the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 that archeologist Gabriel Barkay dated to the mid-7th Century B.C.E., making it the earliest known biblical passage. The excavations also proved that the walls of the First Temple must have extended almost four times farther to the west than previously thought by scholars, and provided a new understanding that, contrary to accepted wisdom, Jewish life must have continued in Jerusalem after the Babylonian destruction in 586 B.C.E.