One of the most head-shaking stories of early explorers in Jerusalem is that of Montague Parker’s expedition to discover the Ark of the Covenant. Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg tells the story in the Jerusalem Post, and if you haven’t heard it before, it’s worth the read. Here’s an excerpt:
With the help of his two Turkish supervisors, Parker and his men claimed an area of ground near the entry to the Gihon water system, known at the time as the Virgin’s Spring, which was then fenced off and guarded by Turkish troops, who did not allow entry to any locals or other visitors. The Jerusalem Pasha Azmey Bey had been suitably bribed to turn a blind eye to the work.
Parker’s activity naturally aroused the intense concern of the local archeological community. The Germans, French and British all had their missions in Jerusalem, but Parker would give out no communication and allow no inspection. His men proceeded with the digging, but they were amateurs and it went slowly and with little result.
Back in London, the Finnish scholar Juvelius had hired an Irish medium, who studied the documents and sent directions to the team about suitable locations. He advised Parker to search the long water tunnel, so Parker sent to London to obtain the services of two mining engineers who had worked on the Metropolitan Railway, the first line of the London Underground. Then he made another excellent move.
The full account is here. If you like stories like this, I recommend Neil Asher Silberman’s Digging for God and Country. The book is out of print, but still available in used bookstores.
HT: Joseph Lauer