Nehemiahs Wall Found
Earlier this month, archaeologist Eilat Mazar found remnants of an ancient wall on the old city of David she believes is a remnant of the wall built by Nehemiah in 445 BC (see Nehemiah 3-6 that describes the project in detail). This was reported on the Bible Places blog, with a link to The Trumpet which broke the news.
Now, the mainstream press has picked up the story. MSNBC and other news sites are printing Regan Doherty’s Associated Press report, and Todd Bolen has provided additional pictures on Bible Places, including a close-up of the actual wall. The Jerusalem Post contains a picture of a person in the wall for scale. The identification with Nehemiah is based on pottery shards dated to the post-exilic period; see photo of the pieces on PhysOrg. More coverage can be found at WND.
Students of Old Testament history will also be fascinated to know that an inscription in Arak el-Emir in Jordan specifically mentions Tobiah. This may well be the very same “Tobiah the Ammonite” who opposed Nehemiah’s project, as described in Nehemiah 4. Pictures and descriptions of the inscription are available on the Bible Places Jordan CD.
The other recent big story concerning Old Testament archaeology, the First Temple artifacts (10/23/2007) found in a trench dug by Muslims on the Temple Mount, is placed in context on the blog of Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, the world’s leading authority on the historic Temple Mount. Todd Bolen has provided an update to this story on Bible Places, with additional links. He has also provided documents proving that Muslim guides as recently as 1930 acknowledged the existence of Solomon’s temple on the site; click here and here.
These are exciting times for monumental discoveries, but Jerusalem is currently a pawn in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks (see WND). The Israeli government showcases these discoveries to the public in beautiful archaeological parks; would Palestinians be as hospitable if the site were entirely under Muslim control? Their treatment of the Temple Mount, Gaza and Hebron portends ominously otherwise. And did you hear what members of the Religion of Peace are demanding today in Sudan? (Breitbart.com).
The capricious history of archaeology in Israel shows that opportunities for exploration are volatile. Major discoveries can be followed by decades of denied access. Ritmeyer has experienced this firsthand. He has had to stitch together tantalizing tidbits of information gathered from fortuitous opportunities over 30 years. How much better it would be for the scholarly community if these historic sites were open for free and fair investigation. This is another reason to pray for the peace of Jerusalem – and for Iraq, another country with untold archaeological treasures where scholarly access hangs in the balance.