Heat and Light: Jerusalem City of David Excavations Arouse Notoriety
Opinions about tangible archaeological evidence
hinge on beliefs about the Bible and science.
Like its rival Science (02/09/2007), Nature1 examined the ongoing archaeology in the City of David south of the walls of Jerusalem. In a news feature, Haim Watzman examined the complexities, disputes, politics and ethics of the digs by Eilat Mazar and Ronnie Reich and others that appear to have found evidence supporting the Biblical stories of King David and his dynasty. The article focused on conflicts both scientific and political. Accusations of bias go both ways. Despite allegations that Mazar and her primary funding organization have a religious agenda to prove the digs date to the time of David, the article did not point to anything specific that disproves the claim. Watzman rather acknowledged that Mazar’s work has defended its objectivity against the skeptics pretty well.
Next day, Science printed a letter from Elisabetta Boaretto, the carbon-14 specialist who performed radiocarbon dating of artifacts at the site. She took umbrage at the Feb. Science article’s implication that radiocarbon could not help settle disputes over whether the finds go back to the time of David. “I would have expected the article to provide an evaluation of whether radiocarbon dating can solve this problem by consulting with experts in the field, rather than publishing a quote by an archaeologist comparing radiocarbon dating to a prostitute,” she quipped. She personally tested 150 artifacts, some of which appear to distinguish the Iron I and Iron II periods to within a century, and defended the work with judgments from other scholars. She stated, “No bias was detected, disproving misconceptions that radiocarbon labs have specific agendas besides doing scientific research.”
The Nature news story also discussed the Pool of Siloam excavations, the Gihon Spring and Hezekiah’s Tunnel – all remarkable structures “mentioned in the Bible” that have only recently come back into the news.
1Watzman, “Archaeology: deep divisions,” Nature 447, 22-24 (3 May 2007) | doi:10.1038/447022a.
Same comments apply as in February (02/09/2007), so no repetition necessary here. Suffice it to say that despite these secular journal’s heartfelt need to latch onto any controversy that might undercut evidence that supports the Bible, there was not much they could say. They tried to make Mazar and other conservatives look biased, but they couldn’t prove it. They tugged at heartstrings with stories of local residents who are being inconvenienced by the digs, but had to admit the archaeological park is nice and is open to all. They had to quote the Finkelsteins and other minimalist skeptics but could not dispute the scholarship of the Bible-trusting archaeologists. The evidence is speaking for itself.
So here, for centuries, for thousands of years, evidence for David’s palace and fortifications have been buried under layers and layers of destruction levels and occupational overburden. How fortunate we are to be living in a brief period between political tensions when some of the facts can now see the light of day – for the first time since the Kings of Judah lived out the adventures, the triumphs and disasters, the ups and downs of righteousness and wickedness recorded in the Bible. The tangible evidence of those events can reinforce our faith that God does indeed work in the lives of individuals and nations.