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- The Ark of the Covenant -


Excerpts from and adaptations of the writings of 
Mrs. Ron (Mary Nell) Wyatt

Ron Wyatt claimed that he found the Ark of the Covenant. 
He was never allowed to provide conclusive evidence.

"More and more we are hearing of new books and tales about the location of the Ark of the Covenant, some based on theories and some based on actual claims of sightings. 

Ron Wyatt also claimed to have found the Ark in 1982 - but how do you know who to believe?  Until you can see solid evidence for yourself, you cannot know for sure who is telling the true story." ......Mrs. Ron (Mary Nell) Wyatt


Ron and his sons, Danny and Ronny, traveled to Israel.  From there they drove to the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba for scuba diving in search of chariot parts in the Red Sea.

Ron became sun-burned and was forced to discontinue his diving in the Red Sea. 

While waiting for his return flight to the United States, Ron was walking along an ancient stone quarry, known to some as "the Calvary Escarpment."  As he was walking, he began conversing with a local authority about Roman antiquities. At one point, they stopped walking, and Ron's left hand pointed to a site being used as a trash dump and he stated, "That's Jeremiah's Grotto and the Ark of the Covenant is in there."

Even though these words had come from his own mouth and his own hand had pointed, he had not consciously done or said these things. In fact, it was the first time he had ever thought about excavating for the Ark.

The man with him, quite out of character, also reacted strangely. He said, "That's wonderful! We want you to excavate, and we'll furnish your permits, put you up in a place to stay and even furnish your meals!"

At that time Ron declined the man's offer until he could see if there was any reason to believe the Ark could be in that location.

Ron returned home and began some serious research and study.

Why Would the Ark Be in That Location?

In searching the Bible, Ron found the last mention in the Bible of the Ark's location in Jerusalem about the year 621 BC, just 35 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Nebuchadnezzar.

This indicated that the Ark disappeared from the Divine record sometime between 621 BC and 586 BC. Since the temple was completely destroyed, there is no doubt that it was NOT there after that time.

Ron found in 2 Kings 24:13, 2Kings 25:13-18, and Jeremiah 52:17-23, a very detailed account of the items taken to Babylon from the "king's house" and from the "house of the Lord"- it even mentioned small items like "spoons", etc.  But the Ark isn't mentioned. Neither is it mentioned in the lists of things brought back from Babylon in the book of Ezra.

We are told in Jeremiah 28:3 that everything taken to Babylon from the "house of the Lord" would be returned, and since the Ark wasn't among the returned items, this indicates that it was never taken there.

Shishak and Sennacherib also took items from the "house of the Lord" but they did not include the Ark of the Covenant.

Ron's Theory:

The Ark of the Covenant was hidden just prior to the destruction of the temple when the city was surrounded by the Babylonian siege wall.

The Ark of the Covenant was hidden somewhere within the confines of the city wall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian siege wall.

The entire city of Jerusalem and  the temple were destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians, so the Ark could have only escaped destruction or captivity by not being anywhere in the city.

The site Ron had pointed to was, he believed, outside of the ancient city wall and within the siege wall.

Two non-Biblical sources, 2 Maccabees and Parilipomena of Jeremiah, stated that the sacred objects from the temple were hidden by Jeremiah before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

Ron's conclusion:
It was supposition based on study, but still only supposition. Yet, it was enough to base a decision on.  He decided to go ahead with the excavation.

The Excavation Begins

January 1979

Ron Wyatt and his sons Ronny and Danny return to Jerusalem and began the excavations.  They would eventually remove many tons of rock and debris, sifting through all of it for artifacts: A requirement of the Department of Antiquities which they were happy to comply with.

They began by digging straight down along a cliff face, forming a steep wall with the earth they removed. 

Almost immediately, Ron noticed a "shelf-like" niche cut into the face of the cliff. Digging down further, he discovered there were three of these "niches" cut into the face of the cliff with a smaller one on the right side.


As the location of the dig was in the vicinity of the "skull face", known to be a crucifixion site, Ron was convinced that these were cut into the cliff-face to hold "signs" or notices stating the crime of the crucifixion victims in three languages (Hebrew, Greek and Latin).

As Ron continued to dig he found a First Century building. 

His conclusion that it was a First Century building was based on the fact that the earliest coin he found in the dig was a Roman coin of Tiberius who was Emperor from 14 to 37 AD; the latest coins being from about 135 AD.

This building was built directly adjacent to the cliff-face and portion of the back wall extended along the actual face of the cliff. The foundations of the building were still in place.

Ron noticed a very unusual large rock which was  too symmetrical to be a natural-shaped rock. When he lifted it, he discovered that it was covering a squarish hole chiseled into the bedrock.

Stone covering "Squarish Hole"

As he examined this hole and cleared away the dirt around it, he discovered that it had a large crack extending out from it. As they removed more dirt and debris, he discovered a platform-like shelf of bedrock which extended out about 8 feet from the face of the cliff, and this squarish hole was chiseled in this "shelf."

"Squarish Hole" and crevice

His earlier conclusion that the cut-out niches were for signs, stating  the crucifixion victim's crime, was now supported by the fact that he had found more square holes, all about twelve to thirteen inches square, cut into the bedrock.  He was convinced that these holes once held crosses.

The building structure that remained intact showed that it originally covered the entire site.  He concluded, based on the evidence they'd found, that a Christian church had been built over the place of the crucifixion of Christ - the stone wall extended along the cliff-face directly behind the cross-hole that was on the "platform-like" shelf of bedrock. It appeared that this was the place where the "featured" criminal-victim was crucified, being elevated several feet above those crucified around him.  He believed that the one elevated above the rest (on the shelf-like platform of bedrock), held the cross of Christ.

The crack extending out from the cross-hole on the elevated "platform" appeared to Ron to have been caused by an earthquake.  It displayed no evidence of being chiseled.

As he removed debris from the cross-hole, he finally reached the bottom and measured it - it extended 23.5 inches into the solid bedrock, while the crack appeared to extend much deeper.


By this time, Ron and the boys had been working here for almost two years. They had begun in January of 1979 and it was now late 1980.

They had explored the entire underground cliff-face, looking for an entrance into a cave or tunnel. If the Ark was in that location, it certainly would be hidden in a cave, he reasoned. Finally, as they continued to search, Ron made the comment to the boys that he was "impressed" that they should just break through the rock of the cliff-face. Ronny said he thought that was a good idea, but Ron resisted. That rock is extremely hard and he knew what difficult work it would be.

Finally, when Danny told his father that he, too, believed they ought to go ahead and break through the cliff face, Ron relented and agreed. It was the only option left.

With hammers and chisels, they began their work. It wasn't long before they broke through the rock into an open space. Enlarging the hole, they saw behind it a cave which was about 15 feet in height and of about the same width. Crawling through, they finally were inside the actual mountain called "Moriah."

Most people think that were the temple was is the highest point on Mount Moriah.  Actually the mountain keeps getting higher and higher up the area in which Ron was digging.

As the mountain kept getting higher, it was impossible for the northern walls of the city to be defended.  In order to alleviate the problem an escarpment or "a dry moat" was dug outside the northern wall so that an invading army would have to go down through the escarpment before approaching the wall.  Because of the escarpment, most people do not realize that the area known as "the place of the skull" is actually the highest point on Mt. Moriah.  Perhaps the place where Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac? (See the Map Below)

Map of Mt. Moriah

Inside the Cave System

For almost two years, they had been tunneling underground, finding artifacts and uncovering exciting structures almost daily. But now, they were in a barren cavern that they would soon learn was only a very small part of a very extensive honeycomb of natural caves and tunnels within the mountain.

The Ark of the Covenant

January 1981

As 1981 came to an end, Ron and the boys returned to Jerusalem.  Even though it is cold there in the winter, the cave system was always a very comfortable and constant temperature, both in summer as well as winter.   The work, however, was beginning to take a toll on all three of them. They all began to develop a fever and slight chills and pneumonia-like symptoms.

On December 24th Ron had to send Ronny back to the US because he was so ill.  Danny had to follow on December 31.

Ron was sick too; but continued to work, for as he prayed, in his mind came the promise that he would find the Ark of the Covenant at that time.

January 1, 1982

Alone, without the boys, Ron needed some help.  Ron had met one young local man named "James".  whom he had discovered was very honest and trustworthy.  He began to use him in the actual excavation when Ronny and Danny weren't available.

Ron and the boys had explored most of the tunnels over the last year, but Ron's plan this trip was to leave no possibility unexplored.  He and "James" crawled through the vast system of tunnels, now much larger and extensive because of the passages they had opened up and the walls they had chiseled through.

Ron would decide where to go next and he and "James" would follow that tunnel. If and when they found a small opening, Ron would enlarge it enough for "James" to crawl through, and he would carefully check it out and report to Ron everything that he saw.

They followed one particularly difficult passageway which took them through a "chimney" which extended straight up and a tight tunnel which was so small that Ron had to exhale in order to squeeze through.  He had to stop to take a breath and when he inhaled, the tunnel was so tight he couldn't fill his lungs completely.

A tight tunnel

When they got through, Ron saw a very small opening in the wall of the tunnel they were now in. Directly in front of it was a stalactite about 16 inches long which almost appeared to be "guarding" the tiny hole.  He broke the stalactite off.

Enlarging the tiny hole enough to see in, Ron could see, with the aid of his flashlight, a cave chamber completely full of rocks, (all larger than "fist" size), with about 18 inches of clearance between the rocks and the ceiling.

The chamber did not look promising at first but leaving nothing unexplored,  Ron enlarged it enough for "James" to crawl through.

Almost as soon as "James" crawled through the tiny opening, he frantically came tumbling back out, shaking and shouting "What's in there? What's in there? I'm not going back in there!!"  Ron saw in his eyes sheer, complete and utter terror; yet James said he had seen nothing!

Whatever he experienced was real, for he left not only that chamber, but the entire cave system, never to return.

"James'" reaction sparked a hesitant excitement in Ron - he would have never given that chamber another look if not for "James'" terror.

Now alone in this vast cave system, he took his hammer and chisel and enlarged the hole, crawling through.  With only about 18 inches clearance, he had to lie on his stomach with nothing but his flashlight in his hand for light.

January 6, 1982 - 2 PM

Shining his flashlight down through the massive pile of large rocks, his eye caught a glimpse of something shiny.  He began slowly removing the rocks one at a time and discovered some dry-rotted wooden timbers just beneath the rocks, and then some also dry-rotted remains of animals skins that turned to powder when he moved them. The animals skins were covering a gold veneered table with a raised molding around the side which consisted of an alternating pattern of a bell and a pomegranate. It only took him a moment to realize that at the least this was an object from the first temple! But he was in such a confined space, he couldn't uncover the entire table. He later concluded, after closer examination, that this was the Table of Shewbread.

With great anticipation, he looked around to see what else he could see, which wasn't much. He shined his flashlight around the open area and then up to the ceiling. There, he saw something that caught his eye - it was a crack in the ceiling with a black substance within the crack.

Crawling slowly and painfully over the rocks to the rear of the chamber, he saw a stone case extending through the rocks. It had a flat stone top which was cracked completely in two and the smaller section was moved aside, creating an opening into the stone case. But the top was too near the ceiling for him to look inside. Yet he knew what was inside.

The crack in the ceiling was directly above the cracked part of the lid, where it was open, and the black substance had fallen from the crack into the case because some of it had splashed onto the lid.

It was at this time, as Ron recalls, as the instant realization of what had happened here dawned on him, that he passed out. When he realized that the crack in the ceiling was the end of the crack he had found in the elevated cross-hole many feet above him, and the black substance was blood which had fallen through the crack and into the stone case.

Ron then knew that the Ark of the Covenant was in the stone case:  But the most overwhelming realization was that Christ's Blood had actually fallen onto the Mercy Seat.

Ron Wyatt became the first witness to the literal fulfillment of the "type" represented by all the sacrifices made by God's people since Adam and Eve, and later specifically directed by God, Himself, in the laws of the sacrificial system.

When Ron came to it was 2:45 PM.

The condition of the chamber, completely full within 18 inches of the ceiling, made it impossible for Ron to do anything else. He could not foresee any possible way of bringing anything out unless the entrance to the chamber through which the objects were originally taken in was found.

He climbed out the small hole, back through the tortuous series of tunnels and sealed the passageway with a stone. To anyone looking through the tunnel, it would appear that it came to an abrupt end. However, the rock could and would be easily removed by Ron when he returned.

Ron did not report his experience to anyone at that time.  He had expected to find the Ark and bring it out, but that now seemed impossible.

He made several more trips into the chamber, and eventually reported to the authorities what he had found.

Inside the Ark of the Covenant


Ron returned to the chamber.  Using a star tipped drill he made a 5/8 inch hole in the stone case.  Ron had brought with him a colonoscope (a medical device with a powerful light source used to look into the human body).  Inserting the colonoscope into the hole he could see the crown-molding around the top of the Mercy Seat and the flat golden side.

As the colonoscope doesn't allow viewing of a large area, and since he had little means to guide it other than a small latitude of rotation, he couldn't see a great deal. But he saw enough to know for sure that it was the Ark of the Covenant.


During his several visits to the chamber, Ron tried to thoroughly explore the contents. He measured the chamber and found it to be 22 feet long by 12 feet on 2 sides, while the other 2 sides followed the line of the cliff-face, forming a chamber that narrowed down in one corner.

The objects he saw in that chamber that he feels confident in identifying are: the Ark of the Covenant in the Stone case; the Table of Shewbread; the Golden Altar of Incense that was in front of the veil; the Golden Censer; the seven-branched Candlestick holder, (which didn't have candles but had tiny, bowl-like golden oil lamps which are built into the tips of the candlestick); a very large sword; an Ephod; a Miter with an ivory pomegranate on the tip; a brass shekel weight; numerous oil lamps; and a brass ring which appeared to be for hanging a curtain or something similar.

There are more objects, but these are all Ron could positively identify. All of these objects were covered by the dry-rotted dark-colored animal skins, then dry-rotten wooden timbers on top of the skins, and finally the large rocks piled over everything.

On the back of the Ark is a small open cubicle which still contains the "Book of the Law" and is presumably the one Moses, himself, wrote.  Ron found the Scrolls, written on animal skins, to be in perfect condition.

The Original Passage Used
to Carry the Ark into the Cave

Before permanently sealing the passageway, Ron had gone into the chamber with the Ark and opened the original entrance to see if he could follow it to its point of origin.  When he opened it, he discovered on the other side a very large tunnel which extended in both directions. 

He observed that the tunnel appeared to be a natural tunnel that had been enlarged as he saw chisel marks.  It was completely blocked with large stones in both directions.

The problem now to be solved was determining the path taken by those who put the items in the chamber.

To resolve this question, Ron began by using simple reason. The items had been in the temple - that was their point of origin.  They were now in this chamber, many feet below ground level.  A great number of tunnels have been found under the temple mount and the city, but none that he knew of were heading in this direction.  Was the entrance into the tunnel within the city or was it somewhere across the street in front of the northern wall?   Ron had an idea as to where to begin his search.

"Zedekiah's Cave"

In the winter of 1854, Dr. Barclay, a physician and missionary, went for a walk in Jerusalem.  He was walking to the site of the traditional "Jeremiah's Grotto" which is along the same Calvary escarpment.  As he walked past the Damascus Gate, suddenly his dog, running ahead of him, vanished.  As he searched for his dog who didn't respond as he usually did to his owner's whistles, he heard a muffled barking coming from the direction of the city wall.  When he approached the wall, he noticed a deep hole and when he peered inside, he heard his dog's familiar bark.  And this is how "Zedekiah's Cave" was discovered (or rediscovered).

This vast cavern is located underneath the Muslim section of the city, extending 750 feet into "Mt. Moriah", beginning at the trench or dry moat separating the northern and southern portion.

It is 325 feet wide at the maximum point and the average height is almost 50 feet. It was clearly a stone quarry, but at what point it was in use, we really do not know.  There are those who believe its stone was used in the first temple, and that may be true.  But its existence was not a well known fact and most likely it was always kept completely sealed for fear of any enemies trying to tunnel into the city.  Little is known for sure about the giant quarry, but one point everyone agreed on was the fact that there was no entrance into the city from the quarry.

Viewing the diagram of its layout, the dark areas are pillars of solid rock left in place to support the ceiling, like the pillars left in a coal mine.  As the miners work their way back out of the mine after depleting it of all its coal, they remove these pillars of coal and the mine usually caves in.

These were obviously left in place to prevent the cavern from collapsing since part of the northern city is above it. 

As Ron examined the quarry carefully, he noticed one thing that did not make sense.  He tried to put himself in the "shoes" of the ancient stonecutters as he surveyed this massive quarry.

Seeing how deep into the side of the mountain the quarry extended, he thought about how much work it would have been to bring all that stone out of the quarry, carry it through one of the northern gates and into the city. It would have been easier to quarry it out of the quarry across the street than to haul it out of that cavern.  To Ron, the solution was obvious - to cut a hole through the ceiling of the quarry and simply haul the rocks up into the city.  The more he thought about it, the more obvious it became to him - yet, no one had ever found an entrance into the quarry from the city. 

Ron began to examine the rock pillars; and sure enough, he found one that wasn't a stone pillar at all.  It was a giant mound of earth and debris, piled up, he believed, to the ceiling and through the hole in the ceiling.  On the surface it would look like normal ground.  But unable to examine the section above ground, he didn't know if the rock had been cut in a manner that would allow the cut-out section to fit back over the hole like a "man-hole cover" or if it was only the piled up earth that filled the hole.  But he was convinced that the hole is there.

A Babylonian Cherub had been found carved into the wall of one of the passageways.  Ron believed that this Cherub was placed there to mark the entrance to the passageway that was used by Jeremiah to take the Ark of the Covenant outside the city walls by way of the underground cave system.  

The cherub from the cave wall, and illustration.



SPECIAL NOTE: Wyatt Archaeological Research is sponsoring the excavation in Zedekiah's Cave under the full scientific directorship of Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority.  IAA is not party to the claims made by Ron Wyatt concerning the Ark.

As the work in Zedekiah's Cave is incomplete, this article is not intended, nor should it in any way be considered to be a conclusion, or an interpretation of the data collected.   It is simply an overview of the work that has been done to this point.


Around 1450 BC a consuming fire descended upon Mt. Sinai. The Creator Himself came down and made a covenant with the Children of Israel. With His own finger, He wrote His covenant, The Ten Commandments, and instructed that it be placed in a golden receptacle known as the Ark of the Covenant, a container for the covenant and the very throne upon which His presence was to dwell.

In the presence of the Almighty, the chosen people of Israel became invincible "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."

Some 800 years later, Israel had fallen away from it’s obligation to that Covenant; and, due to idolatrous abominations, the combining of pagan worship with that described in the first four commandments, the presence of God left the mercy seat, and with it the protection of Israel. In the year 586 B.C. the Babylonians took the city of Jerusalem, but not the Ark of the Covenant, for it had mysteriously vanished, seemingly without a trace. The Biblical accounts in 2 Kings chapter 25, and Ezra chapter 1, reveal that the Ark of the Covenant was not included in the spoils of Babylon.

In the late nineteenth century, while exploring the quarries of King Solomon under the city of Jerusalem, a French scholar, Charles Clermont-Ganneau , spotted a carving etched into the stone. Upon careful examination he discovered the body of a Lion, the wings of a bird, and the head of a man. The representation he found fit the description of a Biblical Cherub, not uncommon to find at the entrance of royal passageways.

Before his death in 1999, Biblical Archaeologist Ron Wyatt described an underground passageway that he determined to be that used by Jeremiah the prophet in transporting the Ark of the Covenant to a place of safety during the Babylonian siege. Ron found that the cherub, seen by Ganneau in King Solomon’s quarries, marked its entrance.

It is important to consider the fact that the information which Ron related was not a theory, but rather an eyewitness account. He believed that one day his account would be verified. As the official source of information relating to the discoveries of Ron Wyatt, Wyatt Archaeological Research - www.wyattmuseum.com - continues it’s leadership role in the Biblically prescribed principal of verification. Pursuant to that principal, the beginning phase of excavation was recently completed to locate and document the passageway of Jeremiah; a passageway which could play an integral part in events prior to the final revelation of the Creators Covenant with His people.


In February 2003 Wyatt Archaeological Research conducted ground penetrating radar scans at the exact location Ron had described as the entrance to the passageway of Jeremiah. The Radar scans revealed a void behind a man made wall, and the project to locate Jeremiah’s passageway began. Excavation permits were obtained from the Israel Antiquities Authority and an appeal was made for volunteers to participate. The response was overwhelming. Not only were there those who offered to physically assist with the work; but others who offered financial support and most importantly their support by way of prayer.

Among those who supported the efforts of Wyatt Archaeological Research, an international team consisting of thirty plus volunteers physically participated in a concerted effort to locate the passageway of Jeremiah.

The project began with the use of the latest technology in Subsurface Interface Radar, a device that can actually peer below the surface and see what lies beneath. Having located an anomaly below a man made wall, which matched that seen in previous radar scans, the work began in earnest. Excavation began down the face of the wall in an attempt to find some opening which might lead to Jeremiah’s passageway. This effort led to a dangerous and unexpected discovery that would alter excavation plans, the discovery of what appeared to be the walls foundation only a short distance below the surface.

At that time, it was uncertain whether what had been discovered was truly a foundation, or the top of another wall. Once again radar was employed in an attempt to determine the nature of the discovery. After reviewing the data Israeli archaeologists called for extensive excavation; the removal of tons of material. The call presented a seemingly insurmountable task given the time constraints of the workers. The question arose; How could so much material be moved in such a short period of time?

The Wyatt team went to work. A ramp system was devised which would make it possible to transport stone, soil, and debris from the excavation site to wheelbarrows below; a system which would prove to greatly accelerate the dig. In an unprecedented effort, tons of material were removed in record time only to confirm that what had been revealed was indeed a foundation and not the top of another wall.

After the walls’ foundation had been carefully and painstakingly cleaned, engineers were brought in to analyze the situation. Their conclusion cast serious doubt upon further excavation. The wall was in danger of collapse!

Excavation team members brought with them a wide range of talents; business men, medical doctors and nurses, those involved in the field of science, and those having expertise in the field of construction and construction materials. By divine appointment, it was no coincidence that the owner of one of the nations largest firms, involved with foundation support, was a participant in the excavations. Plans were presented to engineers and a concerted effort was launched to devise a method of shoring that would not only support the compromised wall but which would provide for a means of safely excavating under it.

A special meeting was called at Rockefeller Museum, home of the Israel Antiquities Authority; and after hours of extensive discussion and scientific calculation a shoring system was agreed upon which would allow the work to continue. While the excavation team made preparation, the search for wooden shoring material was underway; an expensive and not so simple task in Jerusalem, a city of predominately stone construction. After visits to multiple suppliers the materials were finally secured and within hours of delivery the first shoring frame was ready to be placed.

In front of the subterranean wall a shelter was to be built from which the excavation could safely continue under its foundation. One by one team members positioned the shoring frames, while at the same time others carefully braced the wall with backfill and sand bags. Having re-secured the wall, the work could then proceed. Following the pathway of material that had been seen on radar, a tunnel was constructed under the foundation of the ancient wall. A pathway of loose stone and then soft soil was located, which supported Ron’s account. This was definitely an area that had been filled in at some time in the past. Probes into the material, and additional radar scans, indicated that we were on the right track.

Once again, safety concerns became a factor. It was determined by the engineers assigned to the project, that once the excavation extended past the walls’ foundation, which now served as a ceiling, the tremendous weight of the loose material above could collapse in on the excavations; a potentially deadly scenario.

In an effort to make an accurate determination of how much material rested above, a survey crew was called in to calculate the exact position and elevation of the Wyatt excavation in relationship to the ancient walls of Suleiman, and the Old City of Jerusalem which lay above. After locating a survey benchmark outside the Northern wall of Jerusalem, the position of the city above was superimposed on the excavation map. The survey led to a startling discovery. To everyone’s amazement, not only was the excavation about to extend beyond the wall below, but beyond the towering outer walls of Jerusalem, a scenario in perfect agreement with the account of Ron Wyatt.

As the survey continued it was soon determined that more than 10 meters, some 40 feet of material, lay above the heads of the workers.

With the excavation schedule for the first phase of excavations nearing its end, it was agreed by all parties that the site should temporarily be secured. A decision which would not serve to end the project; but rather a new beginning, an essential step toward future success.

As archaeological engineering for continued excavation proceeds, discussions are underway about amazing options never before thought possible.

Reminded that Ron Wyatt worked for three and one half years before the realization of his efforts to locate the Ark of the Covenant, the Wyatt teams returns home with a sense of accomplishment and awaits another day for the key that will unlock the mystery of the cherub in Zedekiah’s cave, and the passageway that leads to the Ark of the Covenant.


August 2006 
Ark of the Covenant Excavation Reveals Plastered Enclosure

12,000 Gallon Cistern?

Excavations just completed in Jerusalem revealed what appears to be a 12,000 gallon Byzantine cistern.  A circular plastered enclosure measuring approximately sixteen feet in diameter and approximately ten feet in height was partially excavated.  The cistern having walls as much as six feet in thickness adjoins an un-plastered circular room which surrounds the crevice which Ron Wyatt associated with the crucifixion site.  

A date has not been established for the un-plastered room and at this time archaeologists are uncertain as to it's function. Quoting one investigator: "I am perplexed.  I have never seen anything exactly like this."

The photo at the top is a view of the excavation from the surface some thirty feet above.  

At the bottom and right side of the picture steel shoring frames are visible.  

At right-center the un-plastered circular room surrounding the "crevice" and "cross hole" area can be seen.  Removal of the overburden, by way of the recent excavations, made it possible to reveal and define the circular nature of the room.  In the past only portions of the walls could be seen on each side of the "crevice" and "cross hole."  A steel drilling platform which was employed in the excavation is seen in the center of the room.  

In the lower left an excavation opening is seen which leads into the cistern.  This opening was created as a result of the recent dig and is in addition to an 2005 opening through a six foot thick cistern wall that is built on bedrock.  

The elevation of the bedrock under the cistern wall gets higher as it extends to the north toward the cliff face.  The man made portion of the cistern wall is five or six feet high where we cut through last year.  Near the cliff face the bedrock is at a much higher elevation requiring less construction.  

It is interesting to note that we find the remains of a plastered floor at the elevation of the cistern rim.  The wall of the circular room surrounding the "cross hole" and "crevice" seems to have been slightly higher than that of the cistern, as it extends above the plastered floor by about eighteen inches.

It is also  interesting to note that the "cross hole" and "crevice" is located in the center of the unidentified circular room.

At the top-center sand bags cover a portion of a stone stairway.  The lower portion of the stairway is missing and seems to have been unintentionally removed by Ron Wyatt as he originally entered the area.  Working underground and in a confined area it would have been impossible for Ron to have recognized the nature of the stones that had to be removed for access.  Projecting down the existing stairs, the indication is that the stairway would lead into the cistern along it's Northern walls.

The second image is an overlay of the 2005 excavation along with the outline of the position of the circular walls as revealed by the recent excavation. 


1. Location map.   

2. Plan and sections.   

3. Pottery.   

4. Glass finds (drawings).   

5. Glass finds (photograph).   

The Glass Finds
Natalia Katznelson 
A few fragments of glass vessels were found, including the unique cylinder seal from the eighth-seventh centuries BCE. The seal was made of transparent, colorless glass, which is quite rare in such an object; it bears a wheel-cut pattern, depicting a cultic scene. A wide perforation in the center of the cylinder may indicate its secondary use as a bead. The other finds consisted of three fragments of vessels on bases with a thick wound trail along the edge (Figs. 4:1–3; 5), which belong to a well-known type of conical beakers or lamps from the fourth century CE. However, variants of beakers/lamps with similar bases are rare in excavated assemblages in the country. Other fragments, also dating to the Roman period (second–fourth centuries CE), included a beaker (Fig. 4:4), a bowl (Fig. 4:5) and a jug with a ribbed handle.

During August 2005 a trial excavation was conducted within the Garden Tomb compound, north of the Damascus Gate (Permit No. A-4549*). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by two foundations from the United States––the Wyatt Archaeological Research (WAR) of Tennessee and the Biblical Archaeology Foundation (BAF) of Texas––was directed by Y. Zelinger, with the assistance of V. Pirsky (surveying), I. Berin (drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), N. Katznelson (glass finds), T. Ornan (cylinder seal), D.T. Ariel (numismatics), C. Hersch (glass and pottery drawings), as well as volunteers from around the world.
The excavation was conducted south of a natural bedrock outcrop that was identified by General C. Gordon in 1883 as Golgotha (Fig. 1). During the 1980s, R. Wyatt excavated several underground chambers at the site. The current excavation cleaned and documented the former chambers and additional chambers were excavated.
The underground complex was entered by way of a narrow natural shaft (L100; 1.0–1.2 m; Fig. 2), descending 5 m deep and opening into an irregular-shaped chamber (L101, 2 × 3 m, 2.8 m high). A narrow opening (0.65 × 1.00 m) was breached in the southern wall of the chamber, leading into a rock-hewn corridor, aligned east–west. The passage westward was blocked by the collapse of earth and stones; eastward, it led into a circular building (L102; diam. 3 m) whose walls were built of fieldstones (0.3–0.4 m wide) and were founded on the steps of an ancient quarry, which descended vertically c. 2.5 m southward. The building’s function was not ascertained due to the limitations of the excavation. It was probably part of a residential structure or an industrial installation. The soil fill in L102 yielded an extremely worn coin that dated to the Umayyad period (697–750 CE; IAA 101943). Most of the potsherds from the fill in L102 dated to the Hellenistic–Byzantine periods––a spindle bottle from the Hellenistic period (Fig. 3:7), a cooking pot, a jar and a lamp from the Roman period (Fig. 3:5, 6, 8) and a bowl from the Byzantine period (Fig. 3:4).
Other finds recovered from the fill included a krater dating to Iron Age II (Fig. 3:1), a jar of Iron Age I (Fig. 3:2) and a broken animal figurine (Fig. 3:3), which is well known in Iron Age II Jerusalem. A special find was a glass cylinder seal (diam. 0.75 cm, length 1.7 cm; the seal was identified as such by C. Hersch), dating to the eighth-seventh centuries BCE. The seal is in the local Neo-Assyrian style and portrays a worshipper in front of a crescent on a stick, representing the moon god, Sin of H aran.
The southern wall of the circular building was breached and led into another irregular-shaped chamber, which was not excavated due to safety issues. However, its curved western wall was probably the outer wall of a water cistern, revealed in a ground penetrating radar examination.
The finds that were disturbed by the previous excavation and the conditions of the current excavation made it difficult to understand the remains. The earliest phase at the site was a quarry, survived by severance channels of the masonry stones. It was part of the extensive quarry known from the nearby Zedekiah’s Cave and Jeremiah’s Pit. The ceramic finds and cylinder seal from the Iron Age were perhaps debris from an Iron Age cemetery in the nearby St. Etienne, which had apparently extended over the area of the Garden Tomb as well. The respective amounts of ceramic finds recovered from the building indicate it can be dated to the Roman period.




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