Various Thoughts on Jerusalem Ramp and More

So much is going on in Jerusalem these days with protests over excavations that I’m not even trying to keep up with it on this blog.  Paleojudaica stays right on top of it with his “Temple Mount Watch” so that’s the place to go for twice-daily doses.  Instead, I offer a few brief comments.

The Washington Post on Sunday had a pretty balanced article concerning Jewish construction in the Old City.  Of course, there are things I think could have been said better, but overall it’s a helpful read on a controversial subject (which is going to get even more heated in months/years to come, I predict).

Today’s Jerusalem Post has an article on “finds” already from the Temple Mount ramp excavation. 

There’s no real content to the article; mostly it is what they expect to find, which is pretty obvious to anyone who knows about the excavations to the south.  I think the article is an archaeologist’s attempt to try to stem the increasing tide of those calling for the excavation to stop.  BTW, they’ve been digging for about a week and have already dug down three meters?  That makes me wonder if R. A. S. Macalister is in charge of this project.

The reason why the excavation should not be stopped: it gives Muslims de facto sovereignty over the Western Wall area.

Some articles are quoting Meir Ben Dov as a Jerusalem archaeologist claiming the excavation is unnecessary and provocative.  In the newspaper to those not familiar with Jerusalem politics, Ben Dov could be any average scholar.  In fact, he is widely scorned by those in his profession.  He’s the one archaeologist the journalists can find to give them an “alternate viewpoint.”

Would you rather learn something useful about Jerusalem instead of spending lots of time on endless controversies which will all pass?  Here are three great books about archaeology around the Temple Mount:

Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Very new, very good.  $60, and worth it.

Eilat Mazar, The Complete Guide to the Temple Mount Excavations.  (Out of print; used ones here).

Ronny Reich, Jerusalem Archaeological Park.  (1 at Eisenbrauns; used ones here.)

The best book on Jerusalem overall is still Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography.  Twelve years old, but most is still accurate and you can’t beat the illustrations.

Elsewhere, I am working on a phenomenal collection of old materials on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem by early explorers in the 1800s.  I hope to have that available later this year.


6 thoughts on “Various Thoughts on Jerusalem Ramp and More

  1. Danny,

    This is pretty easy: Stopping an excavation any/every time the Muslims shout means they can shout and control (i.e. have sovereignty over) Israeli activities around the Western Wall, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Anyone with even remedial knowledge of the area knows there is no danger to Al Aqsa in this case. Neither is it the first time that the Muslims have tried to stop a project by claiming danger to the mosques – the Western Wall Tunnels being the most obvious example that comes to mind.

    Craig Dunning

  2. It is interesting to me that here in the US I haven’t heard a squeak from any news source (I mostly get news from AM radio during the work day) about any of this. I guess I should not be suprised.

  3. James – thanks for the note. It’s great to have a bookseller like Eisenbrauns stocking books that otherwise would be hard/impossible to purchase.

    Danny – let’s use your backyard as an analogy. If you want to put in a swimming pool, but the neighbor objects and says that you can’t because his kids would be jealous and you then decide not to put in the pool, you have conceded that your neighbor has some control over your property. When you next decide to build a playhouse for your kids, and he objects because they’ll make too much noise in it, you are again faced with deciding whose rights prevail. You may be the property owner, but if neighbor dictates what occurs on that property, he is the de facto sovereign.

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