Various Thoughts on Jerusalem Ramp and More
So much is going on in Jerusalem these days with protests over excavations that I'm not even trying to keep up with it on this blog. Paleojudaica stays right on top of it with his "Temple Mount Watch" so that's the place to go for twice-daily doses. Instead, I offer a few brief comments.
The Washington Post on Sunday had a pretty balanced article concerning Jewish construction in the Old City. Of course, there are things I think could have been said better, but overall it's a helpful read on a controversial subject (which is going to get even more heated in months/years to come, I predict).
Today's Jerusalem Post has an article on "finds" already from the Temple Mount ramp excavation. There's no real content to the article; mostly it is what they expect to find, which is pretty obvious to anyone who knows about the excavations to the south. I think the article is an archaeologist's attempt to try to stem the increasing tide of those calling for the excavation to stop. BTW, they've been digging for about a week and have already dug down three meters? That makes me wonder if R. A. S. Macalister is in charge of this project.
The reason why the excavation should not be stopped: it gives Muslims de facto sovereignty over the Western Wall area.
Some articles are quoting Meir Ben Dov as a Jerusalem archaeologist claiming the excavation is unnecessary and provocative. In the newspaper to those not familiar with Jerusalem politics, Ben Dov could be any average scholar. In fact, he is widely scorned by those in his profession. He's the one archaeologist the journalists can find to give them an "alternate viewpoint."
Would you rather learn something useful about Jerusalem instead of spending lots of time on endless controversies which will all pass? Here are three great books about archaeology around the Temple Mount:
Leen Ritmeyer, The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Very new, very good. $60, and worth it.
Eilat Mazar, The Complete Guide to the Temple Mount Excavations. (Out of print; used ones here).
The best book on Jerusalem overall is still Hershel Shanks, Jerusalem: An Archaeological Biography. Twelve years old, but most is still accurate and you can't beat the illustrations.
Elsewhere, I am working on a phenomenal collection of old materials on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem by early explorers in the 1800s. I hope to have that available later this year.