Archeology and Jerusalem : where was the City of David ?

@topffer (36130)
Hamburg, Germany
December 16, 2017 7:52am CST
I exchanged yesterday some interesting comments with @just4him about Jerusalem. I believe that a few up-to-date data about the archeology of Jerusalem might interest some members. Being not a specialist of Israelian archeology, I will follow mainly a good one, Israel Finkelstein, Professor of the Archeology of Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and also a major specialist when it comes to use archeological data to reconstruct biblical history. As it is unusually long, I will split this post in two parts. When we speak of Rome, we have a legend telling that it was founded by Romulus in 753 BC, and the archeology has determined that a first perimeter wall was built on the Palatine ca 730/720 BC, so the legend seems to be correct. When we speak of Jerusalem, we have a lot of Biblical texts but... there is a serious problem. If, like said Valerie «God determined Jerusalem as the capital during the reign of King David», the archeologists are still searching the remains of the period of David(the 10th C BC). The Professor Israel Finkelstein, in a book published in 2001, «The Bible Unearthed», sums it very well : «The most annoying after one century of researches and excavations in Jerusalem the capital of the unified monarchy of Israel so glamour, is that these ones have failed to show the proofs of any important construction during the tenth century. There is no track of magnificent palaces or states, nothing was archeologically found on the spot coming from this period. Shortly, Jerusalem during the 10th C BC was nothing else than a perched village, and not this capital exquisite and decorative of a great empire.» A major problem in Israel, is the political use of archeology to justify the colonization by Israeli settlers of Palestinian lands. As a French I will not throw them a stone, we showed them the way to go by digging a lot of Roman sites in Northern African countries during the colonial era, to prove to the natives that we were there before them and that therefore it was our land. The Bible situates the Jerusalem of king David on a mount, but curiously, the actual «city of David» excavated in Silwam is not on a mount. Again, it is our fault, at us, French. In the 1920’s a French Jew archeologist, Weill, thought that he found there «the tombs of the House of David». As they were empty and there was not an inscription, they were pertaining to whoever you want. Archeology is not an exact science, and was even less exact in the 1920’s than today, sorry. Weill did his excavations on a land that had been bought by the baron de Rothschild. The method is a bit different today. Silwam is now part of a National Park managed by Elad who has the aim to settle Jews in East-Jerusalem. Elad evicts Palestinians of their houses to do archeological excavations, and when the excavations are done they build new settlements. What has been found in the «city of David» so far ? A lot of rich archeological remains, including of the older building found in Jerusalem, from ca 3000 BC. However, when it comes to Jew archeology it looks like there is nothing before the 9th C BC, and not a building that can be objectively called a public building. Even if there are there an archeological park and many archeological projects to promote this «city of David», the true one has to be found elsewhere. To end this first part, I give a link to the website of Emek Shaveh, an NGO which is fighting for a multicultural archeology independent of religions and politics in Israel. The site hosts many interesting and objective articles about archeology in Jerusalem, including a guide to an alternative visit of Siwam/City of David.
Emek Shaveh is an Israeli NGO working to defend cultural heritage rights and to protect ancient sites as public assets that belong to members…
9 people like this
9 responses
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
16 Dec
I think that I must have misread something here because I got the impression that you claimed there was some fact behind the founding of Rome by Romulus.
2 people like this
@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
You have 2 schools among archeologists working on the Roman period : traditionalists, who lend credibility to traditions, like, when it comes to Rome, Andrea Carandini who excavated on the Palatine where he founds the walls in 1988, and published in 2006, "Remo e Romolo. Dai rioni dei Quiriti alla città dei Romani (775/750 - 700/675 a.C. circa)" who think that Romulus is historical, and sceptics, who are by nature... suspicious, like Jacques Poucet. For a sceptic, to speak of the historicity of a tradition is a bit like speaking of apples and plums, as there are 2 different things involved : an archeological datation that is scientifically good, dating the first wall of Rome in 730/720 BC and various traditions fixing the date of foundation of Rome between the 12th C BC and 728 BC, not only by Romulus. And indeed, there is an incompatibility of temperament between tradtionalists and sceptics, who spend a part of their careers to denigrate the supporters of the other school. I have been guilty of that. All I wanted to tell by "the legend seems to be correct", is that there is no incompatibility between the legend and the archeological data. Let's say that there is a convergence between the archeological data and the most commonly advanced date of 754 or 753 BC. I am a moderate sceptic, but maybe are you a radical one? Is my response satisfying for you ?
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@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
16 Dec
@topffer The dating may be appropriate, but the legend is absurd. Romulus and Remus were born of a She wolf according to the mythology. It was also the only example of a contemporary mythology that I know of. Most legends and myths are based on either old local tales or observations, whereas the legend of Romulus and Remus was created specifically to give Rome a divine origin.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
@Asylum I do not remember any tradition telling that they were born from a wolf. The main tradition tells that they were abandoned in a basket on the Tiber and adopted by a wolf who milked and raised them. The wolf milking Romulus and Remus is common on Roman coins. Another one, told by Livy says that they were raised in the countryside by the shepherd Faustulus where they had a healthy life : no more wolf involved.
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@YrNemo (14719)
17 Dec
Let hope your real ID remains a secret. After this post of yours, I am concerned for your safety . Your English is real good re: your argument about this topic. Just imagine if any of us here had tried to argue with you in French instead. By the way, next time you meet JudyEv, use French. I asked her why she didn't try it out in her last meeting with you, she said she got so shy!
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
17 Dec
Thank you. I know it is a sensible post, and I am trying to be objective. When I met Judy and Vince, I had to look once on my phone to search the English name of a tree in a botanical garden, the rest of the time I managed to be understood with my poor spoken English.
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@YrNemo (14719)
17 Dec
@topffer You are braver than many of us here, re: discussing the truth and its many shades of colors. I learned a bit about theology as I had mentioned ages ago, just enough to be a bit skeptical about certain written 'facts'. Can't wait to read your next post, don't have any more stroke in the meantime please.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
17 Dec
@YrNemo I just posted it. As you will see, the situation of the first city is spicy, even a bit explosive.
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@much2say (40204)
• United States
23 Dec
I have to study this one a bit more . . . but we do find it interesting how archaeology comes into play with religion and politics. Text is text in which anyone that has been a part of writing it could use a bit of artistic license, but proof is in the pudding, as they say. So what they thought was the City of David is most likely not the City of David?
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
23 Dec
They thought to have discovered there the "palace of David" in the 1990's, but archeologists are putting that between quotation marks now, it was just a building with walls a bit more thick than usual. It cannot be the City of David for various reasons : there is quite no building of this era, and not a public building. The most probable solution is in part 2. Archeology plays a bad role there : excavations give a scientific pretext to demolish Palestinian houses. You should read more about Elad to see how they link archeology and building new settlements.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search A harp of King David at the entrance to the City of David in Jerusalem Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad [El'ad] (Hebrew: ???"??, an acronym for "?? ??? ???", meaning "to the City
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@much2say (40204)
• United States
26 Dec
@topffer I suppose there is an element of wishful thinking when excavating . . . one can discover "things" but that does not necessarily mean what they find is indeed what they had hoped to locate. Like making the pieces of a puzzle fit together somehow to fit the solution, rather than seeing that the pieces actually fit and completely coincide with all the evidence.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
26 Dec
@much2say It can be told today that it is not the historical city of David because of the hindsight they have after a large number of excavations. Indeed, when they started to call it "City of David" they could think that it was it. The main problem is that Elad employs its own archeologists with the goal to find Jew remains and they tend to not excavate or badly excavate other remains. Emek Shaveh complains about this.
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@just4him (127250)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
16 Dec
Very interesting. I look forward to reading the second part. I have also bookmarked that site.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
The site is full of news about excavations in Jerusalem, it will interest you.
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@just4him (127250)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
16 Dec
@topffer It looks like it will.
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@Daljinder (22182)
• India
16 Dec
I only want the answer to the question that if the city/ place belongs to God then why is there even a fight over who gets to keep it?
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
It was a quote, this discussion is about archeology, not religion. Some Jews and the US Evangelists are telling that God gave Jerusalem to king David to found his capital. More to come about David's capital tomorrow, archeologicaly speaking. It is more spicy than you may think.
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@Daljinder (22182)
• India
16 Dec
@topffer Looking forward to it.
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@kepweng (18715)
• Waikoloa, Hawaii
27 Jan
im Looking forward for the Build of 3rd Temple! and the end will come!!
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
27 Jan
Really ?
@Madshadi (8921)
• Brussels, Belgium
16 Dec
The part that baffles me the most is not how territorial claims are based on unscientific evidence, but how that evidence- we suppose exists - is used to attribute territories to one group of people only. It gets even more confusing when you add to that the fact that the majority of Palestinians today are of Jewish origin.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
It is a sensible topic. I think I have been clear about the political use of archeology in Israel, and I gave a link to Emek Shaveh which is fighting against it. For what is call "the City of David" today, when you look at the results, it is a major failure despite of millions of dollars put for the excavations. I hope you will read part 2, tomorrow, it will certainly interest you.
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@MALUSE (43661)
• Uzbekistan
16 Dec
In the year 2009, Prof. Israel Finkelstein conducted a weekend-long seminar on the archaeological work in Israel and especially Jerusalem in an institute belonging to the Protestant church which is located not far from where I live. I took part and learnt a lot. I even bought a book on the topic and read it with great interest. I distinctly remember that the origins of Jerusalem were humble.
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
You were lucky to hear him, he is the best when it comes to the origins of Jerusalem But it you met him in 2009, you may not know what he wrote in 2011 and that I will sum in part 2 (I am trying to keep the interest of a few readers for tomorrow)?
@JolietJake (51105)
• United States
16 Dec
There is a very simple explanation. And as soon as I spend a few years thinking it up, I'll let you know...
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@topffer (36130)
• Hamburg, Germany
16 Dec
Your welcome. There would be no more suspense if I was telling you what you will read in part 2.
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