“Thy Servants Take Pleasure In Her Stones” Archaeological Discoveries In Jerusalem -- By: Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 10:1 (Winter 1997)
Article: “Thy Servants Take Pleasure In Her Stones” Archaeological Discoveries In Jerusalem
Author: Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer

“Thy Servants Take Pleasure In Her Stones”
Archaeological Discoveries In Jerusalem

Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer

Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer are the owners of Ritmeyer Architectural Design and have over 20 years of archaeological experience in various digs in the Holy Land.

Completing the Scriptural quote of the title concerning Zion, we read that the servants of God also “favor the dust thereof” (Ps 102:14). This verse was somewhat of a motto for volunteers at the Temple Mount excavations in the late sixties and seventies. Although, of course, many of them were lacking in the deeper appreciation of the Word, they were aware that the soil they were painstakingly digging, trowelling, brushing or sifting was unlike that on any other dig, no matter how notable.

George Adam Smith, author of the classic Historical Geography of the Holy Land, wrote on the subject of Jerusalem:

In all it has been 33 centuries of history, climbing slowly to the Central Fact of all time, and then toppling down upon itself in a ruin that has almost obliterated the scenes and monuments of the life which set her alone among the cities of the world (1907: 8).

In fact, the omnipresent dust is one of the strongest impressions on first arrival in Jerusalem, and in the years between the destruction of the city by the Romans and the last century, it had almost buried the tangible remains of the city’s history. The Tyropoeon or Central Valley, which originally separated Mount Moriah and the Eastern Hill from the Western Hill, is now so choked with accumulated rubbish as to be barely discernible.

The advent of the science of archaeology in the 19th century, however, turned the seemingly inexorable trend on its head. Now, instead of Jerusalem’s walls and landmarks being progressively buried, they could be reclaimed and jealously protected. Edward Robinson, the American Biblical scholar, blazed the trail in 1838 with his meticulous topographical survey of the city. Then followed the landmark explorations of Charles Warren between the years 1867 and 1870, under the auspices of the Palestine Exploration Fund, which produced a still invaluable set of plans and sections. Since then, independent scholars, and those from the schools of archaeology established by different nations, have continued to uncover the city’s past. Following the Six-Day War in 1967 unprecedented opportunities have opened up, and Israeli archaeologists have planned systematic excavations

with precise objectives in mind.

An article such as this cannot hope to survey the entire sphere of a...

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