New Book: Excavating the City of David

It’s a bit risky to suggest that a book you have not read or even seen is in the top-ten must-have books on Jerusalem, but I’m willing to be so bold in the case of Ronny Reich’s new book, Excavating the City of David.  Given how quickly Jerusalem’s history “changes” as new archaeological discoveries are made, it is not all that daring to suggest that the newest book is one of the most important.  But I believe that the book will be a classic on the subject because it is written by the lead excavator of the longest running excavations ever in the City of David.  Ronny Reich, Excavating the City of David

Since 1995, Reich has been working with Eli Shukrun in numerous areas throughout the most ancient portion of the city of Jerusalem. 

They have excavated the area of the Gihon Spring where they discovered the Spring and Pool Towers.  They cleared and re-dated the Siloam Channel and made new discoveries concerning the origin of Warren’s Shaft.  In 2004, Reich and Shukrun discovered and revealed the first-century Pool of Siloam.  In recent years, they have excavated the ancient street leading from the pool to the Temple Mount.

Sixteen years of often year-round excavation far exceeds the seven years of Kathleen Kenyon’s work (1961-67) or the eight years of Yigal Shiloh (1978-85). Reich also benefits from learning from the history of many dozens of excavations in Jerusalem (good and bad), and he has the latest archaeological tools to guide his research.

Excavating the City of David is published by the Israel Exploration Society and includes 384 pages and 207 illustrations.  The book has two major sections (see details below in table of contents).  The first reviews the history of excavation in the last 150 years.  The second is a brief history of the City of David.  The work collects the findings published in various articles (Hebrew and English) over the last 15 years, and it almost certainly includes new data and interpretations of the latest finds.

This book will be a major reference in the field for decades to come.  It is available now for about $50 from the Biblical Archaeology Society and as a pre-order from Eisenbrauns.  (It is not listed at Amazon.)

Table of Contents:


The City of David–the archaeologists’ creation

The City of David: The History of its Excavation and Study

The Gihon Spring and the pool

Under Ottoman rule

  • Charles Warren
  • Charles Clermont-Ganneau
  • Conrad Schick and the discovery of the Siloam Inscription
  • Hermann Guthe, Conrad Schick and the discovery of Channel II
  • E. Masterman and C.A. Hornstein and Channel I
  • Frederick Jones Bliss and Archibald Dickie
  • Montague B. Parker and Father Louis H. Vincent
  • Raymond Weill

During the British mandatory period

  • The International Excavation Project
  • Robert A.S. Macalister and J. Garrow Duncan
  • John Winter Crowfoot and Gerald M. Fitzgerald

During the period of the divided city (1948-1967)

  • Kathleen M. Kenyon

After reunification of Jerusalem in June 1967

  • David Ussishkin and the survey of tombs in Silwan
  • David Adan-Bayewitz and Yigal Shiloh
  • Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron
  • Some small-scale excavations
  • Eilat Mazar
  • Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets


What next?

A Brief History of the City of David

  • Early days
  • The first city—in the Middle Bronze Age II
  • The Late Bronze Age: “My king has caused his name to dwell in the Land of Jerusalem forever”
  • Biblical traditions: David, Solomon and the United Monarchy
  • Some geographical-historical issues
  • Text vs. pottery sherd
  • The kingdom of Judah
  • The return from Babylonian exile
  • The Early Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods
  • The southern City of David in the Herodian period
  • The Roman destruction of the city
  • The Late Roman period
  • The Byzantine period, the Church of Siloam
  • The Early Islamic period and the renewal of Jewish settlement in the southern part of the city
  • The Middle Ages—The Mameluke period and the reopening of the spring
  • The Ottoman period




Chronological Table

Selected bibliography


Index of textual references

Illustration credits


One thought on “New Book: Excavating the City of David

  1. When Reich and Shukrun excavated the area of the Gihon Spring they discovered the Spring Tower and the Pool Tower. Upon further excavation, the "Pool Tower" was found to be a passage way leading westward up the slope.I hope that they realize that they have discovered the illusive Water Gate! The Rock-cut Pool and the Gihon Spring surround this gate with water, and what better name for a gate there? Eilat Mazar may have found a gate a little further to the north, but if it is a gate, it is the Horse Gate mentioned by Nehemiah and follows in order after the Water Gate in his description.
    Neh. 3:15 = Fountain Gate
    Neh. 3:26 = Water Gate
    Neh. 3:28 = Horse Gate
    Neh. 3:29 = East Gate
    I look forward to receiving my copy of this important book and hope that Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun take the credit they so richly deserve for this discovery.

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