Jan. 15--Israeli geologists say a purportedly ancient stone tablet detailing repair plans for the Jewish Temple of King Solomon is genuine, an Israeli newspaper has reported.

The fragment is said to date from the period of the Jewish King Joash, who ruled the area 2,800 years ago. If officially authenticated, the find would be the first piece of physical evidence backing up biblical texts. It could also intensify competing claims to the site in Jerusalem's Old City, where the stone is said to have been found, which go to the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Muslim clerics have denied any Jewish historical connection with the site, revered by Jews as the location of their biblical temples. The blackened stone was unearthed during renovations by Muslim authorities on a mosque compound, known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount, according to the Ha'aretz daily.

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