Archaeological activity in Jerusalem has been sucked into a whirlwind of conflicting political agendas, and the site commonly referred to as “the City of David” is in the eye of the storm. At issue is a place of seminal importance for the Jewish people and indeed for anyone who cherishes the heritage of Western civilization.
When dealing with archaeology in Jerusalem, one must first know the facts. Otherwise it is easy to be led astray by unfounded historical interpretations or to succumb to misinformation from those pursuing their own political agendas.
The City of David is a long and narrow six-hectare ridge that stretches to the south of the Temple Mount, outside the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the subject of an explosive mix of territorial disputes, political propaganda and conspiracy theories. But it is first and foremost a remarkable archaeological site that has been intensively explored by British, French, German and Israeli archaeologists starting as far back as the mid-19th century.
Confusion regarding this area begins with its name. Palestinians call it Silwan, but this is base propaganda aimed at the uninformed and uncritical international media. The Palestinian village of Silwan is located not in the City of David but rather to the east, on the other side of the deep Kidron Valley. Old photographs taken before the middle of the 20th century show the ridge cropping out south of the Temple Mount to be devoid of almost any buildings.
Jews and researchers of all backgrounds call the site the City of David — a name given to the ridge by early European explorers. Scholars agree that together with the Temple Mount and the southwestern part of the Old City, this ridge is the location of biblical Jerusalem. Read more