by: Nadav Shagaia
Thursday, 11 July 2019 | On July 1, 2019, a photo of the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and US envoy, Jason Greenblatt, striking a thin and symbolic wall with a sledgehammer—a wall built to separate two parts of the ancient Pilgrimage Road—became the headline of the whole event.
This is one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries to be made in Jerusalem since Israel’s establishment. On this road, which was remarkably preserved under the ashes of the Roman destruction, many thousands of Jews—according to the historical descriptions—walked in Second Temple times after a ritual bath in the Shiloah [Siloam] Pool about 700 meters [2,300 ft.] from the Temple Mount.
Over the past five years, Israeli archaeologists have uncovered 350 meters [1,148 ft.] of this road, including numerous artifacts that bring back to life the last battle in Jerusalem, about 2,000 years ago, between the Jewish rebels and the Romans.
Friedman attended the dedication ceremony not only to express recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the City of David area, but also to admire a magnificent archaeological endeavor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, replete with discoveries and finds. Although this enterprise was dedicated by Israel on June 30, it began more than a hundred years ago at a site excavated by non-Israeli archaeologists, at a time when the State of Israel did not exist and Jerusalem was under Muslim rule.
Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, closely supervised by safety engineers (in line with the world’s strictest standards), have been searching for or excavating the Pilgrimage Road—mistakenly known as the Herodian Road—only since the beginning of the 2000s.
Only about 350 [1148 ft.] of the 700 meters [2300 ft.] of the road have been uncovered so far. Although the prevailing opinion was that Herod built the road, it turns out that it was built in the time of the Roman governors who came after him, particularly in the days of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
The archaeologists who have been excavating the Pilgrimage Road over the past five years—Dr. Joe Uziel, Ari Levi, Nachshon Zenton, and Moran Hajibi—have shattered another assumption: It was not poor people who lived along the Pilgrimage Road in the area of the “Lower City,” but, in fact, a wealthy population. Among the ravages of destruction that have been uncovered along the road, luxury items have been found, including inlaid stone tables, jewelry of various kinds, and perfume bottles. Along with these are many other findings: coins, cooking pots, complete stone and clay tools, rare glass items, a magnificent dais (for public announcements), and parts of arrows and catapults—testimony to the last battle in the “Eastern Hill” during the Great Revolt of the Jews against the Romans, which concluded with the destruction of the Second Temple.
When Palestinian media cry out that Silwan [Siloam] is in danger, they lie twice: once, because the Israeli excavators and authorities do not move in the City of David without the authorization of safety engineers, and they comply with the strictest standards; and a second time, because the City of David, which covers about 15 acres, constitutes about 6% of the territory of Silwan.
When Palestinian leaders and clerics cry out that the excavations in the City of David endanger Al-Aqsa [Mosque], they are deliberately lying. The excavations do not extend beyond the wall of the Temple Mount compound. For years, Israel has made sure to excavate around the [Temple] Mount and not under it. That was the case regarding the Western Wall and along the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, and the same is true regarding the City of David. Even when the excavation comes close to the wall of the Mount from the south, it never goes beyond it. The visitors who walk on the Pilgrimage Road, or through the “Herodian drainage tunnel,” ascend to the Davidson Center, which is at the foot of the walls of the Mount and not within it.
Hence, it appears that, as in the case of the Temple Mount compound, the acrimony and slander concerning the City of David stem in part from the inability of the inciters to deal with the Jewish past of the site, which is adjacent to the heart of Jerusalem—the Temple Mount.
At a time when Palestinians are rewriting the history of Jerusalem—both the Jewish and the Muslim history—and trying to prove that they were in the city before the Jews were (despite what modern research tells us), the City of David is for them another item in their large fabric of denial of any Jewish tie to Jerusalem, its sites, and its holy places.
Posted on July 11, 2019
Source: (Excerpt of an article published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on July 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)
Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/wikimedia.org
Photo License: Wikimedia
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