Archaeologists recently announced the discovery of hundreds of fragments of tile they believe once covered the floors of the Second Temple, most likely installed during the reign of King Herod in the 1st century BCE. Ilan Ben Zion writes:
The bits and pieces of 2,000-year-old marble flooring were found in fill removed from the contested holy site in the late 1990s when the Islamic Waqf, the institution overseeing the al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount, carried out excavations as part of the construction of a subterranean mosque in an area known as Solomon’s Stables.
Since operations began in 2004 to recover artifacts from the tens of thousands of tons of dirt dumped outside the Old City, the Temple Mount Sifting Project has found some 600 colored-stone floor-tile fragments that the organization’s director contends came from [renovations made by] King Herod. . . .
“This type of flooring, called opus sectile, Latin for ‘cut work,’ was very expensive and considered to be far more prestigious than mosaic tiled floors,” said Frankie Snyder, an expert on ancient Herodian-style flooring who works with the Temple Mount Sifting Project. She noted that opus sectile floors only appeared in Israel during Herod’s reign.