Friday, January 21, 2011

City of David

As always I meant to write this post sooner but I just didn't have time. I finished up my final exams this past week. There will be a separate post about exams and how they are done differently than exams in the states.

Here we have a picture of the City of David and a artist rendering of what the City of David might have looked like during the first temple period. Dr. Barkay said its not entirely accurate but it gives you a basic idea.

This picture I'm at the City of David on a lookout point looking south. The mountain in the center of the picture is the place from our first tour in my post titled Geography of Jerusalem.

On the same lookout point turned the opposite direction we have the Mount of Olives. This is the famous burial ground outside the Old City. Everyone wants to be buried here because when the Messiah comes(or returns depending on your religion) the people buried on the Mount of Olives will be the first ones resurrected. People have been burying their dead here since the Intermediate Bronze age (2200-1950BC). The mountain is very crowded now and I've heard that burial plots are very expensive. The valley below the graves is the Kidron.

The mountain where the trees are marks the location of the high places King Solomon built for his foreign wives(1 kings 10). King Josiah later destroyed these high places but they lasted for 200 years. This is also the place that Jewish tradition says the dove got the olive branch from to give to Noah.

Here is the Temple Mount from the City of David. As you can see I am at a lower elevation from Temple Mount. This is the only place that you ascend to the Temple Mount which makes the Psalms of ascent make more sense. As Dr. Barkay was giving this tour there was a rooster in the yard of one of the houses below us. The rooster kept crowing during the tour. I guess Jerusalem has different laws about farm animals in the city than we do in the states.

This one is going to be harder to see in the picture but I'm going to try to describe it. Towards the middle of the picture near the front there is a house that looks like its on stilts if you look just above that there is a single tree in the middle of the houses. Under that tree is a tomb that archaeologists believe may be the tomb of the steward Shebna mentioned in Isaiah 22:15. There is an inscription on the tomb that comes close to the words of Isaiah. I love when I can match up verses to the archaeological evidence. On the rocky cliff face below the houses notice the square holes those are tombs from the 9th century officials(upper class) they were alive during the time of King Jehoshaphat.

Here is a good view of the rest of the City of David you can see that it is a sloping hill.

Now for one of the most famous and most controversial remains of archaeology in Israel:The stepped stone structure. The reason its controversial is different archaeologists have dated it to different time periods. The earliest date is the 13th century BC the latest date is 10th century BC. The two pillars in the middle are the remains of a house that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC(2 Kings 25). The houses were built on the steep slope when the Babylonians came the houses toppled down the hill. This is the area mentioned in Nehemiah 2. When Nehemiah took the night tour of the city he mentions have to get off the animal he was riding and go on by foot because there was no room. The stones from these houses were in piles on the slope and he couldn't pass. Near this area archaeologists found several clay seals. These seals were used to well...seal papyrus documents the seals contain the signature of the people who wrote them. During the fire of the destruction it baked the seals preserving them for archaeologists to study. One of the seals found is from a known Biblical figure Gemariah son of Shaphan (Jeremiah 36).

This is a little to the right in the above structure. One of the most exciting pictures I've ever placed on my blog. That square stone with the hole in the middle is a toilet seat. Just what you've always wanted to see an ancient toilet seat! All kidding aside though its an important find because these house represent the middle class. In the surrounding nations of the the time toilet seats are usually found only in palaces and the homes of the upper class. This means that the Kingdom of Israel was a pretty advanced civilization to be concerned with sanitation. Archaeologists analyzed the ....stuff in the pit below and discovered they were eating a lot of lentils and they suffered from the same intestinal parasites we do.

For my last picture from the tour we have several different city walls from different time periods. The little white and grey specks at the bottom of the wall are pigeons which is ironic because they are right in front of an ancient dovecot. The pigeons were used as sacrifices in the temple. Towards the top of the picture notice the vertical concrete pillars in between those pillars is a garbage dump from the time of King Herod.

The adventures in cooking continue. I made these I think two weeks ago. They are pigs in a blanket...sort see the little cocktail sausages do not have pig in them because our grocery store is kosher. I got the recipe for biscuit dough off the internet and gave it a try. They turned out pretty good thought if I make them again I need to grease the pan better they got stuck. These were made in celebration of the grocery store finally having butter in stock again.

Claire made chicken soup! Can you tell we were both feeling rather homesick?


  1. Gotta ask the question. How did they use that toilet with the hole sideways like that? :)

    Nothing there to give it scale but that thing just below it that looks shiny cylindrical. How do they know that's what it is?

    On that controversial dating. Any chance it's one of those cities on top of cities like Troy? That would explain multiple dates as being of different layers that were close together. The story about the collapsed buildings lends credence. It would explain why there might be multiple layers as consecutive mud/rock slides.

    Also on the Bronze Age. I saw a show where a geologist was showing a vein of Malachite near the Dead Sea. I'm assuming that vein was just a minor remnant of extensive mineral deposits that have since been worked out. Have you seen anything Hebraically Bronze from the Bronze Age?

    You're getting fascinating and I just got bunches of questions.

  2. I frequently look back over the beautiful pictures that you put with your posts. The burial site at the Mt. of Olives is impressive. I can't imagine a more prestigous place to be buried. The legacy and history is a pivotal piece for all mankind. Who can forget the story of Noah and the Arc and the significance of the dove bringing back a branch from an olive tree after forty days of rain and flooding. Listening to Dr. Barkay talk about the history of the region and hearing the crow of a rooster must have brought a smile to the whole class. Talk about city and country life existing together.

    I must admit to double clicking on the picture to enlarge when you mentioned the square stone with the hole was an ancient toilet seat. Being middle class back then had its benefits but I thought how uncomfortable but necessary to stay out of the elements. Couldn't resist double clicking the garbage dump during the time of King Herod.

    I always enjoy the pictures of the food you and Claire prepare. Your pigs in a blanket and chicken soup look delicious. You're both very resourceful. Don't we all crave our comfort foods when we are home sick. I apprecite you taking the time to bring history alive for me.