Jerusalem Report: Four Areas Excavated In 1972 -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 01:4 (Autumn 1972)
Article: Jerusalem Report: Four Areas Excavated In 1972
Author: Anonymous

Jerusalem Report: Four Areas Excavated In 1972

The Six-Day War in 1967 radically changed the archaeological scene in Jerusalem. Since then, excavations have proceeded as never before. For the first time in over 2, 000 years, Jerusalem is a united city under Israeli control. Archaeologists, both Jewish and Christian, have been able to conduct excavations free of political divisions and military tensions.

“We have learned more about ancient Jerusalem in the past four years than had become known in a century previous,” remarked one American scholar.

Despite its preoccupation with the remote past, archaeology is directly dependent on the politics and circumstances of the present. In the case of Jerusalem, the problems of digging have been both political and logistical.

Most of New Testament Jerusalem lies beneath what is now a densely inhabited quarter. It is obviously impossible to dig under homes in which people live, and it has been equally difficult to pursue a continuous project in disputed areas. Most serious digs require years of tedious and painstaking labor in sifting through the debris of centuries.

Since 1967, in spite of the political controversy, Israeli building projects have served the archaeologists well. Slum dwellings have been cleared out, permitting scientific excavation before new buildings are erected. It was the building plans of the Armenian Patriarchate on the church’s ancient holdings in Old Jerusalem that provided the impetus for explorations on Mount Zion and the nearby site of King Herold’s palace.

Home of the High Priest Caiaphas Sought

On the night Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26), He was taken to the home of the High Priest Caiaphas. There He was tried before the Jewish leaders and kept under guard the last night before the crucifixion. But where was the house of the High Priest?

Ancient and modern research points to Mount Zion, the quarter of the most notable and wealthy families of the time. Since the fourth century, one tradition has designated a spot just outside what is now Zion Gate as Caiaphas’ residence. In the Middle Ages the Armenian Orthodox Church, probably the oldest of the Christian institutions in modern Jerusalem, built a small chapel there.

Other Christian orders laid claim to ruins down the slope of Mount Zion toward the Temple and designated that as the site of the High Priest’s home. Now covered by a modern church called St. Peter’s in Gallicanta, it has been shown to tourists and pilgrims for decades as the scene of Jesus’ trial and His denial by Peter.

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