Fragments of the floor of the Temple on which Jesus once walked have been restored to their original condition.
Israeli archaeologists have restored floor tile fragments they believe originally stood in Jerusalem's Second Temple.
The temple was destroyed in AD 70, with its ruins now known as the Temple Mount to Jews, and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.
For Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist who has excavated in Jerusalem for over 50 years, the restoration is profoundly significant. Speaking to Media Line, he said, "It is very touching for me to realise that these are the actual floors upon which our forefathers walked and sacrificed as they were active on the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago."
The reconstructed tiles are part of the Temple Mount sifting project, an Israeli endeavour which began in 2005. The intiative commenced after the Muslim Waqf, a religious trust which controls the holy site, removed 400 truckloads of artefact-saturated soil from the holy site for the expansion of nearby mosque. The extraction of the soil was an opportunity for excavating a site previously untouched because of the sensitivity surrounding the site, which is significant to both Muslims and Jews and has frequently been a flashpoint of controversy.
The finds that were discovered have ushered in an unprecedented level of archaeological research. Since it started 200,000 people have participated in the project, and there are half a million objects still requiring research.
As for the temple floor restoration, about 600 coloured stone tile segments have been uncovered, more than 100 of which date back to the Herodian Second Temple period.
Frankie Snyder, an expert in ancient Herodian style flooring said: "We didn't expect something like this...These are the tiles that the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the festivals walked on. These are tiles that Jesus walked on. I love that I get to hold this piece of history in my hand."
A volunteer at the site said: "The work here gives you a sense of what happened on the Temple Mount and who was there. It's the best treasure hunt in the world."