It was an astonishing discovery.
In the piles of dirt removed from Har HaBayis and painstakingly filtered, there emerged on Tuesday the sea shell that might have been used to extract the techeles dye.
A hole punctured in the shell indicated that indeed the coloring substance was removed from it, and archeologists estimate that the shell dates to the period of Bayis Sheini. However, the find will only be sent for laboratory testing to approximate its age.
The shell was found in the monthly check of the Muslim excavations of dirt and various fragments on Har HaBayis which are discarded on the slope leading toward Jericho.
Researchers say they have found about 20 such shells with similar puncturings, but it is rare to find one on Har HaBayis. The artifacts have been found mostly in diggings of ancient Phoenician sites on the Mediterranean coast, where they produced argamon and techeles.
This latest discovery raises the question of whether there was a dyeing operation on Har HaBayis or its vicinity? If so, during what period?