Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jerusalem Updates

Joe Lauer sends along a couple of articles worthy of notice.

The excavations at Ramat Rahel are featured in a 3-minute video by infolive.tv.  It begins:

Deep inside of the hills of Jerusalem rests the Kibbutz of Ramat Rachel. Over the past 50 years many archaeologists have realized that hidden beneath this kibbutz are archaeological treasures beyond one’s imagination - the ruins of the palace of one of the king of Judah, along with relics from the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman era. At this site where space and time are mixed within the earth, another hidden treasure long buried underground has recently resurfaced. Just a few days ago, 15 silver coins dating from the Second Temple period were discovered inside of an ancient pot hidden in a columbarium.

The Jerusalem Post has an article on the increase of tourism to sites in east Jerusalem. 

The Company for the Development of East Jerusalem reported 28 percent growth in the number of visitors to the historical sites in and around the Old City's walls during the first six months of 2008.

"More Israelis have rediscovered Jerusalem this year and they visit it more frequently then they used to do in the past," Gideon Shamir, the company's director-general, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

During the first half of the year, 143,967 people visited the Ophel Archeological Park, situated at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, a 24% rise over the same period in 2007, the company said.

The Old City Ramparts saw 74,728 people walk on them from January to June, a up 29% from the same months in 2007. Both sections of the Promenade begin at the Jaffa Gate; one route passes through the New Gate, Herod's Gate and the Lions' Gate (aka St. Stephen's Gate), and the other stretches from Jaffa Gate to Zion Gate.

Since January 1, 5,549 people visited Zedekiah's Cave, which was opened to the public in April 2007. During nine months of activity in 2007 the cave was toured by 9,356 people; visits during April to June 2008 are up 86% from the same period last year.

The article continues here.  I'm certainly happy to see these sites open again, but there has been a price.  Getting into the City of David with a group now requires an advance reservation, a fast pace to stay ahead of countless tour groups, and a wad of cash.  Zedekiah's Cave cost $1 before it closed in 2000; now they charge $5 a person to keep the lights on and a guard at the door.

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