Why archaeology is importantA clay fragment that was found at the City of David archaeological site demonstrates that Jerusalem was anything but a backwater when Kings David and Solomon set up their dynasty here three thousand years ago.
The fragment, found in the Ophel area, in a dig carried out by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University Institute of Archeology and funded by New York philanthropists Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman, is a small piece of what appears to have been a larger tablet. What makes it important is that it contains writing in ancient cuneiform symbols. This makes it the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem. That alone is fascinating but what makes it truly significant is the high quality of the writing that seems to be the work of a highly skilled scribe who was probably part of a royal household. Analysis of the writing by Hebrew University experts shows that it may well have been part of a message sent from a king of Jerusalem to the pharaoh in Egypt.And why does this matter? Jonathan Tobin explains.
This matters because many influential archaeologists, as well as Palestinian propagandists, have dismissed Jewish ties to Jerusalem by claiming that the Kingdom of David mentioned in the Bible was an insignificant entity and that its capital in Jerusalem was nothing more than a village. These people scoff at the notion that the effort to restore Jewish sovereignty to the area is based on historical precedent rather than biblical romance.On the back slopes of the Mount of Olives, there is a unique kind of archaeological dig. If you're in Israel and looking for something to do, you might think about going to help them out for a day. It's probably the first archaeological dig to take place entirely above ground.
The lesson of this most recent find is that if Jerusalem were already an important walled city in the centuries before David, it is very difficult to argue that it was a backwater only when the Jews took over, some 3,000 years ago. Since anti-Zionists wish to claim that King David and his kingdom never really existed and that the great city from which he ruled it is a myth, this evidence of the city’s significance even before his time is more proof of the falsity of anti-Israel historical polemics.
The stakes involved in these seemingly arcane archaeological disputes are quite high. That is why anti-Zionists have been at such pains to dismiss or minimize the importance of Mazar’s amazing finds in the course of her exploration of the City of David site. As COMMENTARY wrote back in February, when Mazar released findings that showed that she had found a portion of an ancient city wall as well as other possible royal structures dating to the 10th century B.C.E., the greatest threat to those who think that parts of Jerusalem should be off-limits to Jews comes not when Jewish-owned buildings go up but when Jews start digging into the ground.
When the Waqf built an underground mosque in Solomon's stables on the Temple Mount several years ago, massive amounts of dirt, containing hundreds of artifacts from the Temple periods, were carted off and dumped in the Kidron Valley in the dead of night. This 'dig,' which is run by the City of David group, is sifting through those mounds and mounds of dirt looking for those artifacts. They have found many. But there is much more to be done. Every artifact that is found is another piece of evidence of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
More on this story here.