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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
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
“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.

One comment

  1. Thank you for insightful articles. We are touring Israel next month. In Jesus!

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