Uncovering - 3000 years of History!
Plain Truth Magazine
April 1969
Volume: Vol XXXIV, No.4
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Uncovering - 3000 years of History!

Astonishing? YES! The original JERUSALEM has been buried for centuries! But today, on that very site, 3,000 years of buried history is coming to life. Here is the first eye-opening report on Jerusalem's history-making BIG DIG!

   THE ORIGINAL JERUSALEM was known also as the City of David. There King David of ancient Israel built his palace and his throne. On that very site a tremendously important and exciting archaeological excavation is under way on a major scale.

Most Intriguing Site

   Ambassador College has been given the great honor and responsibility of JOINT PARTICIPATION with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Exploration Society, in this important scientific project. We are now actively engaged in uncovering 3,000 years of history.
   The site of this, the present "big dig," is that of the original Jerusalem. Our excavation begins from the South Wall of the Temple Mount, extending south from that wall.
   Both Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple, later called Herod's Temple, were built on Mount Moriah. This was immediately north of the City of David. In Herod's day the top of Mount Moriah was leveled off and walled in. It is known today as the Temple Mount.
   The ancient temples undoubtedly were located at the general site occupied today by the Moslem mosque, called Dome of the Rock. Most of the present Jerusalem extends north and west of the Temple Mount. It is significant that few buildings now stand on the multiple-acre area of the original Jerusalem, now being excavated.

To Answer Many Questions

   Some of the most valuable contributions to knowledge are being made today through archaeology. Many questions may be answered by the present project. Is it possible that this uncovering of life as it was lived 3,000 years ago may demonstrate whether the human race has advanced in basic intelligence and ability as far as we have supposed?
   This is only one of many exciting, intriguing questions suggested by this joint project.
from the Director of the Excavation
By Prof. Binyamin Mazar

Archaeologist and former President, Hebrew University

   EARLY IN 1968, the Israel Exploration Society and the Hebrew University's Archaeological Institute decided to put through a wide-ranging program of systematic archaeological excavations in Jerusalem.
   I considered it a notable privilege, when I was asked to head the expedition responsible for carrying out the first venture in this program, which was to uncover the open areas in the Old City, south and west of the walls of the Temple Mount. I launched this archaeological venture so fraught with difficulties and so pregnant with prospects on 28 February, 1968, with the aid of archaeologist Meyer Ben Dov, and the late architect Emanuel Dunayevsky.
   The work has carried on ever since, without interruption. The team is mainly composed of graduates and students of the Hebrew University's Archaeological
   Faculty. The manual work is mostly done by students, and by laborers supplied to the expedition by the Israel Government's Labor Ministry, as well as by overseas and Israeli volunteers, and Israeli high school pupils doing their annual National Service stint. We appreciate the students and faculty members that are coming from Ambassador College to assist in this work.
   The special conditions at the site have made it possible to do the job efficiently and on a considerable scale. Thanks are due for the great assistance in the form of financing and technical aid supplied to the expedition by public and government agencies, as well as by various Israeli and overseas institutions and personalities, sympathetic towards the venture. The Honorary Secretary of the Israel Exploration Society, Mr. Yosef Aviram, also helped a great deal in the organizational sphere.

   It is well to realize the machine age has brought vast changes in civilization's mode of living. It has made minds and living patterns more complex of detail. We are prone to evaluate progress in actual intelligence and ability by the criteria of mechanical and technological development, and cumulative knowledge acquired. But these are additive. Is it, then, possible that they have misled us into a false assumption that basic ability and intelligence have advanced in the same degree? As we dig out the facts as well as the artifacts many interesting discoveries may be expected. Knowledge of history may be corrected. We may learn more about development and advancement of the human family.

Why Jerusalem?

   But before we explain what is already being found in Jerusalem, you need first to know some of the background facts.
   There have been other important archaeological projects in Israel. Among them, Masada, Hazor and Jericho. Other digs, too, have stimulated great scientific interest. Why, then, should this Jerusalem project attract the greater popular interest of the general public?
   There are many reasons.
   Jerusalem is a chief focal point of world news just now. The eyes of the world are on Jerusalem.
   It is regarded as a holy city by three great religions Jewish, Moslem, and Christian. It is the chief geographical center of Biblical interest for both Jewish and Christian religions, and also to some extent for Moslems.
   For example, Biblical history refers to Jerusalem as the city which Israel's God chose as his capital city (I Kings 11:13, 32, etc.), to become eventually the capital of the whole world. The Biblical record states further, however, that when He removed the Jews from their land (beginning 604 B.C.) "... the LORD said, 'I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen" (II Kings 23:27). It is further recorded that Israel's God turned his back on Jerusalem, and that it would be "trodden down of the Gentiles." This did occur.
   It is exciting to follow through other Biblical statements that bear direct connection with this present excavation!
   Jeremiah records Israel's God saying: "And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of jackals... " (Jeremiah 9:11). The Hebrew word as originally written for "heaps" means heap after heap on ruins. This is repeated in Jeremiah 26:18 and Micah 3:12.
   It is interesting to note that it is the original Jerusalem, called the City of David, that has been made "heaps."
   After nearly two millenniums of desolation and Gentile occupation, however, it is stated: "The LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem" (Zechariah 1:17). It is repeated thus: "And the LORD shall inherit Judah His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again" (Zech. 2:12).
   These significant statements in the Book preserved through the centuries by the Jewish people provide exciting background for this present scientific excavation. But, even more exciting, the same writings make a startling prediction for the future quite evidently the very near, almost immediate, future: "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all nations shall be gathered unto it" that is, ruled from it! (Jeremiah 3:17)

Startling Predictions

   These same Jewish-preserved Scriptures make further startling predictions. Notice this one with a direct connection with the present archaeological project: "For unto us {the Jewish people) a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the THRONE OF DAVID, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6-7).
   How REMARKABLE that this & scriptural prediction says plainly that the messianic future world ruler long, long looked for by many if not most Jews is to reign ON THE THRONE OF DAVID!
   Notice how significant!
   The exact spot of that throne lies buried beneath, at the very site of our present project! It lies under these very "heaps" buried by layer upon layer of the decay of buildings of generation after generation.
   When the construction built by King David became old and in decay, it was not removed. Instead, new pavements and buildings were constructed on it. When that construction went to decay a later generation built on top of that. This procedure was repeated, layer after layer. Today the remains of the original City of David lie many feet underneath.

Advance News Reports?

   The Hebrew Bible gives other statements that the Messiah shall reign from this spot ruling all nations in a super world government! One is Isaiah 24:23: "... the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously."
   Others are Isaiah 33:20-22; Micah 4:7 and 4:1-3; Obadiah 21; Zechariah 14:1, 3, 9; Isaiah 40:5, 9-10; Isaiah 11:1-4; Daniel 2:44 and 7:22, 27.
   Are these mere uninspired predictions, or actual advance news reports?
   There are other predictions of interest to adherents of the Christian religion. New Testament writers represent Jesus of Nazareth as the coming Messiah. Of him Luke 1:32-33 says: "He shall be great, and shall be called the son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
   IF the spot of the original throne of David is, in fact, to be the coming seat of world government, then all that accumulated debris of century after century must be cleared off before that event can occur! Exciting? Beyond words to describe, it is!

Popular vs. Scientific Interest

   Probably the most widespread popular interest in the project will center on the Herodian and ancient Davidic periods, deepest down. These have the chief appeal to Christians and Jews. The Herodian period is the time of Jesus, founder of Christianity; the Davidic period that of the beginnings of monarchial government in ancient Israel.
   These, however, are not necessarily the periods of chief scientific and historical interest. Scientific interest centers on learning whatever may be revealed about life as it was lived back through the Turkish and the Arabic periods, the Byzantine, and the Roman, as well as the Herodian and ancient Israelitish eras. As a scientific archaeological excavation, every inch of buried ruins and debris is being carefully dug nearly altogether by hand and thoroughly examined for artifacts.
   Then, as every particle of scientific evidence is sifted out, it is photographed, labeled and systematically filed. Skilled architects with knowledge of architectural designs, styles, and plannings during the various periods of the past then reconstruct by drawings, the buildings and pavements as they formerly existed.
   After carefully sifting out all objects of value, the remaining debris is hauled off, truckload after truckload. Thus, layer after layer will be removed, all the way across the area of the project, covering a number of acres.
   This exciting and important project is gradually clearing off all the accumulated rubble, over the entire area, all the way down to the exact site of the THRONE OF DAVID! If a coming world Ruler is to govern the world from the very spot of the ancient throne of David, the way is certainly being prepared!
   This project would be of tremendous scientific and historical interest, even without that "IF." But to millions of people that "IF" adds an exciting, intriguing, tremendously interesting additional fascination even an aura of sanctity! Millions will want to follow the progress reports of this project. These reports will appear, from time to time as new finds are brought to light, in The PLAIN TRUTH.
   Here, in summary is Professor Mazar's first report.

What Excavators Uncovered

   The first season of work uncovered spectacular Herodian courses of stone of the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. We went down some ten courses of stone along the Herodian wall, and reached a street paved in well-shaped stone slabs. The street was of the time of Herod and Jesus from the end of the Second Temple period. It led up from the Tyropoeon or Cheese-makers Valley, west of the City of David, to the Hulda Gate in the Temple Mount.
   It was an impressive sight: a magnificently constructed wall, hidden until now, built in the monumental Herodian manner. The huge flat-bossed masonry blocks of the Temple Mount were meticulously hewn and laid in straight courses with astounding precision. Some masonry blocks were as long as 30 feet, or more.
   The paved street was an interesting walkway built in a series of steps with connecting short, flat areas. Usually there were three steps, then a flat area and then three more steps. The pavement of the street was covered with heaps of decorated architectural fragments and sundry Herodian-style building stones. These stones had crashed down from the Temple Mount above when the Roman Legions under Titus destroyed the Second Temple. The piles of rubble overlying the street contained items of Second Temple times, including many coins. Among them were coins from the time of Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate, King Agrippa I and from the four years of the Great Revolt. There is also a silver coin of Roman Emperor Vespasian, the father of Titus.
   In the rubble were quantities of pottery, especially oil lamps, and imported ware from as far away as the Roman Province of Gaul now France. Also found were decorated stone vessels, glass, etc. A lamp was found decorated with a seven-branch candlestick and the shofar (ram's horn). It was probably left there by Jewish tourists of the fourth century. Two fragments of sundials, which were undoubtedly set into the Southern Wall, were also uncovered.
   Our excavation began by baring a long, narrow strip, extending approximately 220 feet along the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. From the southwest corner of the Temple Mount our excavation continued in an easterly direction, until the proximity of a late structure built on the site of the famous blocked-up Double Gate. This Double Gate also known as the Western Hulda Gate was one of the most important gates for access to the Temple enclosure during Second Temple times.
   The present excavation, reports Professor Mazar, has succeeded in distinguishing 15 different strata. They represent the entire long time-span from the days of the Roman occupation to Turkish times.

The Bridges that Herod Built

   Excavation is also taking place around the corner along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. This is where Robinson's Arch is located. It is a short projection of stone extending from the Western Wall. But it is known to be the remains of the bridge that once connected the upper city of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount. The bridge crossed over what was called the Cheese makers' Valley. It had six arches. The foundation for the pillar supporting the first arch has been located exactly where the Englishman Warren, a century ago, determined it would be. Stones from this Royal Bridge, as it is called, are being located. It is hoped that parts of this ancient bridge can be reconstructed.
   A great deal of progress has been made in clearing away the odd assortment of structures that were built against the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.
   This clean-up has uncovered what is known as Barclay's Gate. The gate is located midway between Robinson's Arch and the famous Wailing Wall. (The Herodian Wailing Wall is part of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount) More work is still to be done in restoring Barclay's Gate.
   Numerous other Herodian finds came to light at the eastern extremity of the strip we had laid bare along the Southern Wall. There we went down to the cellars below the pavement level of the street. We have found that the Herodian pavement is six meters nearly 20 feet above bedrock. The whole wall against which the street is built is Herodian and none of it is of the time of Solomon. The various discoveries include, in particular, a fragment of a stone vessel with the Hebrew word Oorban (sacrifice) incised upon it. It also had the representation of two birds on the side. This immediately brings to mind the passage in the Mishna, Tractate Ma'aser Sheni, chap. 4: "He who finds a vessel upon which is written 'sacrifice' if it is of earthenware, etc..." The portrayal of the birds, concludes Professor Mazar, could well refer to the sacrifice of two birds offered by a woman who had given birth (Leviticus 15:29-30).
   Uncovered unexpectedly was a stone slab with a Latin inscription. It was part of a dedication by the Governor of Aelia Capitolina (the name of the late Roman fortress on the site of Jerusalem) to the Emperor Septimius Severus, and his son Caracalla Caesar.

Excavation Expands

   As the 1968 excavations proceeded, the area of the dig was enlarged considerably. It reached the eastern and western Turkish Walls south of the Temple Mount. At this stage of the excavations, we have gained a much clearer general picture of building operations in the area of the City of David during the early Arabic period.
   During the Umayyad period of the Arab or Saracen occupation, a large building was erected near the Temple Mount in the City of David, possibly very near or even over the site of David's palace. It was built during the reign of Caliph Abdul-Walik and his son in the early 8th century. This building, constructed in the typical Umayyad style of palace architecture, apparently served as a mansion for the Governor. It did not stand long, however, apparently having been destroyed in the earthquake of 748. Reconstructions of parts of this mansion, and further building from time to time in this area, carried on down to the time of the Crusades. The area was gradually abandoned and finally became uninhabited, with the blocking up of the Double Gate. During the Turkish period which lasted until 1917, there were, consequently, no buildings at all in the area we uncovered in the City of David.

Future Plans

   The excavations in all areas are proceeding rapidly and without interruption. Possibly by the time you read this, excavating will be done beyond the Turkish wall that now forms the eastern limits of our excavation and of the present Old City. This is the Ophel of the old Jebusite City of David.
   The aim in 1969 is to investigate remains of every period of "Jerusalem down the generations" systematically, and to probe the most ancient strata. The area of Ophel is of special interest, for periods which have not yet come to light in our excavations. Only time can tell what the future may hold. This is the area of the "Hill of Jerusalem," the site of the City of David, which stretched from Mount Moriah southward.
   It may well be, says Professor Mazar, "that, as we dig deeper, we shall encounter remains. of the Royal Citadel of the Davidic Monarchy. Many surprises may be in store for us, as we study Jerusalem's topography and history, in the days of the First and Second Temples."

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Plain Truth MagazineApril 1969Vol XXXIV, No.4