May 24, 2019

At the Crossroads of Ancient History and Modern Conflict

“When most people think of Jerusalem they think of the walled Old City: the place that contains the Western Wall and the Aqsa Mosque and the Via Dolorosa and inspires more religious fervor than perhaps anywhere else on earth. But the Jerusalem of the Bible is a modest, narrow ridge just outside the walls. Yuval Baruch, the Jerusalem regional archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, described it this way: “Jerusalem was the capital of Judean kings and that capital was located in what we call today the City of David.”

Archaeologists have been engaged in a ferocious debate about whether a king named David literally built his palace here. Dr. Gadot, who belongs to the school of archaeology known as biblical minimalism, is skeptical. But almost all agree on the big picture, which is that the 11-acre mound is the seat of the Davidic dynasty, which begot what we now call Jewish civilization.

“You cannot cast doubts over the importance of this place. This is the acropolis of Israel,” Dr. Gadot said.

There is just one problem. The acropolis of Israel is being unearthed in East Jerusalem, which much of the world does not regard as belonging to the state of Israel. And it is being unearthed, at least in part, beneath the homes of Palestinians, from land that those Palestinians want to be incorporated into their future state.”

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