Friday, December 24, 2010

Mount of Olives and Bahurim Surveyed

Results of an archaeological survey of the northeastern slope of the Mount of Olives have identified numerous ancient burial caves, some cisterns, and the biblical site of Bahurim.

The report is published in Hadashot Arkheologiyot 122 with a number of photos and illustrations.  The three areas surveyed are located around the eastern exit of the car tunnel passing through the Mount of Olives (map here, photo below).

The burial caves are from the Second Temple period and later, but in some places remains were preserved from the Iron Age.  Ras Tammim in the survey’s Area III has been identified with biblical Bahurim.  This site is best known as the place where Shimei cursed David when he fled from Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt.

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! (2 Sam 16:5-7).

Bahurim also is mentioned in connection with the return of David’s wife Michal.  You cannot help but feel sorry for Michal’s second husband who followed, “weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim” (2 Sam 3:16).

About the site (Horvat Ras Tammim), the report states:

The site is situated on a hilltop (Spot Height 704), east of the Mount of Olives. The area at the top of the hill is cultivated farmland, whereas the slopes are covered with vegetation. Potsherds, mostly dating to the Iron Age and the Early Roman and Byzantine periods, were found within the precincts of the ruin. Twenty-one sites were identified.

More details of the survey, including 11 diagrams and illustrations, are published here.

HT: Bible and Interpretation

Mt of Olives, Wilderness, Rift aerial from nw, tb010703219_labeled

Mount of Olives, aerial view to southeast

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