Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem's Water - The Forgotten City!

Thanks to the work of Israel Antiquity Authority archaeologist Joe Uziel we have some very precise reporting on the findings in the areas around the Gihon Spring. Joe wrote in 3 different reports during 2015-2017:
  1. Recent Excavations Near the Gihon Spring and Their Reflection on the Character of Iron II Jerusalem
  2. The Monumentality of Iron Age Jerusalem Prior to the 8th Century BCE
  3. Absolute Dating of the Gihon Spring Fortifications, Jerusalem
I will attempt to extract the pertinent facts with regard to Middle Bronze Age dating and later chronology.


It's important to understand two maps of the most relevant areas and the Anchors 1-4 that Uziel uses to establish dates.

Gihon Spring (@635m above sea level)

W108 (@657m above sea level)
Evident in the map (Figure 2) above and (Figure 3) left:  Anchor 1 - the findings of Katheryn Kenyon's Wall 3 as it abuts wall W108 and from which Joe Uziel, based on the work of Eli Shukron and Ronny Reich determined its same period construction. Note that W109 runs parallel to W108 enclosing the well established Middle Bronze Fortified Passage between them. The next Uziel map emphasizes Anchor 3, outlined in red, but also includes the four rooms discovered, in part by Parker and in full by Shukron in 2011 - labeled 'G'. Parker dismantled part of W108 for Parker's Tunnel marked XIX on the map. Section 11 includes Wall 4. The areas marked 'P' and 'K' will be discussed later in this document.

Uziel Map - Anchor 3 Rock-cut-Quarry (red outline) 
- note orientation of boulders in green.

Parker's Tunnel XIX (see image below - red arrow @A) aligns with and connects 'G' (also next map) on the bedrock with sections A,B,C of Wall 3. Section A meets W108, which until Parker dismantled a ╩╗huge block of Cyclopean masonry’ (1911: 29, pl. VI -Vincent), was impassable in a north - south direction.

Anchor 1, Wall 3 bedrock @660m above sea level)

Anchor 1, Wall 3A (looking north) and B returning
 to abut the bedrock below Wall 1- a very narrow trench

Parker Tunnel XIX looking north to Wall 4 of Section 11
note the west-east slope of the bedrock at the gate
Although Kenyon attributes all of the pottery found in the trench-fill to the Middle Bronze Age Uziel  finds, whether it is a fortification wall, tower or support wall the only reliable date is pre-late 8th century BCE. His academic finding was based on excavations and discoveries in sections above the wall, but opposes his view that the foundations of the Fortified Passage and boulders of W108 are Middle Bronze Age.

Parker Map by Louis-Hughes Vincent 'G' connected with Wall 3 along Parker Tunnel XIX
Room 3 is 'G' and 4 is 'H' on Parker Map above
On Uziel Map 'G' denotes the entire four room complex- referred as Temple Zero
Looking down (east) the excavated slope from 'G'

Passage connecting 'G' and 'P' (note the iron stairs at back -east of image)

Cave dwelling 'K' on Uziel Map and Parker Map
Looking north to 'P'
 (iron stairs connect 'P' passage to 'G' above)

Anchor 3, Rock-Cut-Quarry once considered to be a pool
looking to southwest corner (note bedrock slope and line cut in quarry)
Anchor 3, Rock-Cut-Quarry - note boulders accumulated in south-west corner
 (top-right) especially under the platform (next image).
Also note the Round Chamber in the bottom left of image.

Challenging Uziel, the scattered positions of the heavy boulders (see Uziel Map) suggest they did not all originate and roll from W109 (the south section of the double wall with W108). More likely they  fell from the passages between and north, adjacent of area 'G' and 'P', which rise to a height ~5m above the west rim of the stone-cut quarry. There is no reason to believe these heavy boulders could physically roll from W109 at the far north west face of the quarry to accumulate as they have in its south west corner.

Bedrock @636m above sea level
Highlighted boulders during excavation (now under the platform) in south-west corner
make the point they were unlikely to originate from W109
Excavations in layers under the boulders revealed pottery that was situated during the late Iron Age (Str 7. debris layers), but the lowest layers indicated the quarry was in existence from Middle Bronze II periods (Str 10 fill). These findings confirm the bedrock floor was mostly undisturbed, other than for the pottery-trash that was cast into it between Middle Bronze II and Late Iron Age - a period lasting almost 1000 years. This would indicate that occupation in this south-eastern section of the city, particularly around the quarry was sparse since after construction of the quarry in MBII.

As proposed by Reich a floating wooden floor may have once existed in the quarry.
A floor would explain the absence of evidence under boulders 
In the event a floating floor once existed in the quarry, it would explain Strata 10 evidence and an original construction date at the end of MBII, followed by the absence of evidence until its removal and the introduction of Strata 7 evidence in the Late Iron Age based on findings found under the boulders. But why would such a platform have existed for ~1000 years and what purpose would it have served?

The findings generally agree with carbon dating analysis conducted under Uziel's direction at two locations (Wall 104) on the north-eastern corner of Anchor 4 of the Spring House Tower (see next map)
North-East Corner at Wall 104 and Wall 105 (Bedrock @634m above sea level).
Take note of the Round Chamber in the Rock-Cut-Quarry
Anchor 4, North East Corner of Spring Tower
The North East corner appears to have been constructed on land-fill and the carbon dating results were quite revealing. The range span that indicated occupation from ~2600 BCE and several periods between mostly concentrated around ~1750 BCE, but a construction date that was later than expected of around 850 BCE.

The construction commencement date aligns with the periods of David and Solomon, unless it existed prior and new evidence introduced if it was repaired at that time. In any event it appears Hezekiah ~562 BCE wasn't the first King who wanted to control access to the Gihon water source. Its distinctly possible that construction to surround the Gihon Spring and channel its water spanned ~300 or more years, the span of numerous rulers, Kings and administrators during the period of Jerusalem's first temple. But what of the periods prior? A theory of water connected with the development of the city begins to emerge.

A little south of the quarry in Area E excavations, under Floor L1631/1635 of Stratum 17B abutted City Wall 285. Fill L1654A/1656A comprised the fill beneath the floor which also abutted Wall 285 (De Groot and Bernick-Greenberg 2012) The floor yielded MB II pottery, including one complete, and two partly complete storage jars (Eisenberg 2012). The extensive settlement at area E indicates may indicate an initial preference to be located @~640m above sea level near level with the water source at the Gihon (@634m above sea level) as opposed to flatter part of the mid-Mount Moriah ridge @680-690m above sea level.

Topographical Map for Sea Level and Excavations Areas
It is now obvious that the Middle Bronze II completion of the quarry (as confirmed by sealed Strata 10 evidence under boulders resting on the bedrock) rendered the entire area immediately south of the Gihon Spring - 'industrial'. Such was the magnitude of the quarry that any residential or other use of that are would have been disrupted by stone-workers.

We can be certain, that before the bedrock was quarried the natural slope enabled access across the escarpment see the blue arrow (map below), only in both directions. At that time, at the blunt end of the arrow (the north end) there was an entry to a series of natural or caustic caves. (Ronny Reich explains).

Natural path over escarpment coincides with Round Chamber

Looking North East
The Round Chamber Jerusalem's first water depo

Round Chamber Plan (looking north)


The Gihon Spring once gushed its waters every 6-8 hours, it did not run constantly like it does today, so the occupants had every incentive to dam its waters to hold and collect it for future use. The engineering problem was always complicated by the low level of the spring in relation to the valley floor where any rising waters in the springs natural cave would have been expelled. The challenge for the earliest populations on Mount Moriah to control water was intensive until Solomon redesigned the water supply and Hezekiah channeled the Gihon waters, under the mountain to the lower parts of the city. Until Solomon water from the Gihon would have been a major constraint on growth. Bottling Gihon water and moving it 200 meters up a 20+ degree slope from @635m to @685m above sea level would have required constant application of labor, skillful enterprise and economic control.

Therefore, access at the Round Chamber was initially the most convenient point for locals to draw water each day. The dwellings they occupied initially would have been most conveniently located to the water source, but as the populations expanded to the flat upper ridge, moving water up the eastern slope would have become semi-industrialized and eventually controlled by local rulers on Mount Moriah. It's quite conceivable this industrialization of 'bottled' water may have lasted 1000 years and the shortest distances between transportation points would have become the most controlled routes. The quarry may be tied to control over these water routes. The MBII development of W108/109 Fortified Passage and access above Warren's Shaft to the upper tunnel, where water could be hauled 50-100 meters and from a height @635m-@680m above sea level may have been the demands of the first populous on the habitable levels higher up the mountain.  In Early Bronze periods the upper part of the mountain was mainly used as burial grounds for important people who had passed on as evidenced by numerous burial caves and artifacts.

Control over water distribution routes may have motivated construction also to enhance efficiency. The original transport route into the upper tunnel, immediately above Warren's Shaft was eventually blocked off (the wall can be seen behind Ronny Reich in the video below) because the floor had collapsed and the new route through the fortified passage had to be secured.

We can now imagine how the industrialization of 'bottled' water may have motivated a 1000 year struggle for control over the water industry. This would support the construction of a wooden platform in the quarry above the Round Chamber to manage water that had surged from the Gihon, to bottle it and dispatch it where it was hauled through the inner chambers of Mount Moriah for daily distribution to growing populations further up the mountain. With this we can return to determinations that date Wall 108/9 and Wall 3 to the collapse of the tunnel floor somewhere toward the end of MBII and the early part of the Late Bronze Age. Further we can now conceive Wall 3 as a component of Wall 108 that blocked access to Parker Tunnel XIX and secured entry to the water distribution routes from higher up the mountain. Construction of wall 108 and 109 may also have been motivated by political insecurity including Israels rising out of Egypt in 1313 BCE and the prospect that could threaten control of Mount Moriah if Israel sought to return to their indigenous sites.

It suggests the construction of the quarry and implementation of its wooden platform would have actively shielded the bedrock from accumulating any further significant evidence between Stratum 10 and 7 which only accumulated after it was dismantled in the mid to late Iron Age. In the intervening periods after King Solomon redesigned the city's water supply to come from the north and west so the utility of the Round Chamber's water industry and the Kidron Valley slowly waned. By the time the First Temple was destroyed, the quarry and lower slopes around the Gihon were used mainly for industries other than bottling water.

Confirmation of this theory is supported by Terminal Iron Age evidence found in the organic mud of the quarry where large volumes of fish bones and broken bullae once sealed jars of dried foods. The 'food depot' at the Round Chamber prepared processed food that had been transported to Jerusalem, from the coastal waters through the Kidron Valley to the Gihon Spring.  The north and westward expansion during and post the era of King Solomon changed everything about the once ancient city that had now been forgotten. However, the remnants under the fallen boulders told a story of Middle Bronze IIB followed by a long gap of absence until the end of the Iron Age, the siege of the Babylonians, the destruction of the first temple and eventually the reestablishment of the post-exile food processing 'industrial' area.

Perhaps the saddest part of this industrialization was the lost connection to early cave dwelling 'K'  and passage 'P' that connected to 'G', in a Middle Bronze Age II ~2000-1800 BCE. In these times rooms 1-4 of Temple Zero regularly received the lower waters hauled from the Gihon to serve the ancient practices of MalchiTzedek, the priest who was dedicated to a monotheistic God and to whom Abraham, known as the father of monotheism tithed his wealth.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Ancient Jerusalem - A Sacred Burial Site?

From the excavation report by MacAlister and Duncan - Excavations on the Hill of Ophel, Jerusalem 1923-1925: "We thought, when they were first uncovered that they were cisterns and in the original draft of this report we described them as such. We have now definitely abandoned this theory. There is no trace of a water line on the walls. There is no cup-hollows such as usually exists in the bottom of rock-cut cisterns to catch the last dregs of the water. We now hold that these carefully hewn chambers were tombs of a very early date, presumably belonging to notable of the Jebusite city. In fact we have come to the conclusion that there are no Jebusite cisterns at all in the city, but that the Jebusite city was dependent entirely on the Virgins Fountain (and possibly other springs since dried up) for their water supply."

The statement above related to burial sites in Field 5, but also 7 and 9 of the excavation, which is the upper east facing elevation along the north-south ridge of Mount Moriah (west of and between the modern Area G and E). It is testimony to the use of at least some of these areas as cultic worship sites established around sacred burial caves in the early and mid Bronze Age periods.

Presenting my tomb theory to members of the Israel Antiquity Authority

The vigil seen at sacred grave sites in Israel today may resemble an early form of the tradition that continues by devotees who recite psalms and other prayers at the place the spirit of the deceased returns.

Prayer vigil at Joseph's tomb 
As I have previously written, shaft tombs were common in the region during the early through middle Bronze Age.  Arguably Jerusalem's most ancient and important tomb may have existed for 1000 years or more before it was hacked when an Iron Age quarry cut the north-south passage on the lower eastern slope of the mountain. The path between two significant Bronze Age features, the upper floor blocked cave and the lower floor cave house (Parker), that exists either side of the quarry may have been purposely separated in order to prevent ("stop or cancel" - see video) the continuous traditions of occupation and organized worship.

Plan of Gihon excavations
The Rock-cut pool disconnected bidirectional north-south access 
Along the rim of the quarry the slope of the bedrock's south face can be seen below. It is now known that water could not be contained in the quarry because the low degree geophysical slope from the Gihon spring, north of the quarry could never build sufficient hydraulic pressure to raise water into any section of it.

Cut quarry often confused as - upper Gihon Pool
The remnant round chamber (as it is known today) is contained in the bedrock of the rock-cut quarry visible below. It may once have been a much taller shaft connecting the burial chamber at the base to the surface (as illustrated top left of image).

Remnant of shaft to round chamber in rock-cut quarry 
The confirmed discovery of early and mid-bronze burial sites, in vicinity on the eastern slopes of Mount Moriah, as it descends toward the Kidron Valley and Gihon spring offer strong support for the theory that the round chamber in the rock-cut quarry once was a shaft-tomb leading to a sacred burial chamber. Eventually, at its base the abandoned burial chamber was connected to the Gihon Spring source through a series of cut channels.

On the adjacent, north face of the quarry the partly collapsed massive bronze age double wall rises from the east, near the Kidron Valley up the steep bedrock slope to the west. At the top (west), the double wall once connected with the city wall built at the time of King Hezekiah to further and completely block passage from north to south. around 100 years ago Montague Parker cleared sections of the wall to provide passage through a tunnel as seen in the next two images.

Double Wall looking east - quarry to the immediate south.

Top of wall was dismantled by Parker - looking north
(Kevin's gate can be seen in background left).
Before it was dismantled by Parker, the top of the double wall abutted the city wall, which in conjunction with the quarry entirely blocked the north to south passage across the lower section of the east face above the Gihon Spring. In addition to sacred graves, we need to understand the time periods and long-standing motivations to undertake this massive construction.

Drawing (looking to the west) from Ronnie Reich's book
 demonstrates how the double wall, above the
Fortress of Zion and quarry blocked passage.
Parker dismantled the top section of the double wall, that abutted the city wall to obtain access room 3 and 4, (image below) but he never made it to the adjacent rooms 2 and 1, they were discovered in 2011 by Eli Shukron.

Temple Zero complex facing east near the Gihon Spring
If these four rooms comprised a Bronze Age temple, the quarry, double walls and city wall may have been specifically constructed to prevent successive populations from practicing sacred rites in the four rooms. Herein may lie the long-standing negative motivation to construct such significant barriers that surround this important four room feature and prevent its use.

As MacAlister and Duncan suggested in their detailed report the story of the Lame and the Blind at the Fortress of Zion may further explain such long-standing motivations. The fortress refers to the stone construction immediately south of the Gihon Spring, extending west up the steep east face of Mount Moriah.

All city walls depicted in this image
have not been located in archaeology
This Jebusite fortress is referred to in 2 Samuel 5:7-8 and 1 Chronicles 11:5. King David's troops entered, captured and lived in the fortress until they eventually took control of the broader areas and the surrounding populations on the mountain. According to the Biblical accounts, surprisingly the Jebusite King was never forced to vacate Mount Moriah. During King David's 40 year reign at the same location the Jebusite Kings other property rights were upheld.

According to tradition the Lame and the Blind refers to the pacts between Abraham, Isaac and the descendants of Philistine progenitor Avimelech, as inherited by Jacob. These pacts permitted the Jebusites rights to occupy land in this region. King David allegedly broke the 500+ year "Lame and Blind" pact when his troops conquered the fortress and renamed it and the mountain the City of David.

The fortress and walls preceded Iron Age King David, by at least several hundred years. Therefore, the Bronze Age burial sites in the immediate vicinity may have motivated the Fortress, quarry and double wall obfuscation of the Temple Zero complex as a reminder to Israel of their paternal "Lame and Blind" pact with Jebusites. In this context "Lame" refers to Jacob who was lamed during his tussle with his "angel of death" brother Esau while en route back to the matzevah he erected 20 years earlier in the place he named Beit El, on Mount Moriah, the night he experience his famous "Jacob's Ladder" dream. Unlike room 3 of Temple Zero, which was purposefully constructed to retain the bedrock platform in its northwest corner, room 2 was empty until, post construction the perfectly preserved matzevah was located on its bedrock.

The Israel Antiquities Authority have agreed to investigate using geophysical probes and other methods that may reveal how or if it is affixed to bedrock. Regardless, its preservation in rooms that were sealed when discovered in 2011 is nonetheless remarkable.

Matzevah of Jacob on Mount Moriah

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Report from City of David

After living in exile for 210 years in Egypt and after wondering the desert for 38 years, Israel sought to enter the land of its inheritance. To their surprise Amelikites disguised as Canaanites attacked them, Edomites refused them passage, Moabites and Amonites withheld the offer of food or water. All these events took place on Israel's southern approach along the eastern side of the Jordan river and are recorded for posterity in passages of Chukat (Numbers:20-22) from the Bible.

What inspired these independent nations to collaborate against Israel? They could not have individually or collectively attributed harm, ill treatment or designation as enemy of their various states, yet they unanimously stood against Israel's attempt to reach its destination. The threat of Israel rising must have been a significant motivating factor that contributed to these coordinated national actions against Israel.

If we use the Bible as a context, Israel's redemption from exile in Egypt must have seemed like the impossible come true. This fledgling nation of 70 had grown to an army of 600,000 men and now their families were amassed along the south eastern boundary of Jordan River. The daunting prospect should have dampened the conviction of the alliance against Israel, yet each nation stood resolute against them.

This article is not about the war that ensued, during which Israel conquered the land of Moab, Amon and the Emorites east of the Jordan river instead it focuses on the ultimate destination, the mountain that motivated Israel's allied opponents to remain united and intransigent.

Some 300 years after these events, there was good reason King David waited for 7 years before he could advance on the mountain from which he would ultimately establish the united kingdom of Israel. The mountain, is ancient Jerusalem's Mount Moriah associated with some of Israel's most significant events during establishment, and post redemption from Egypt. Israel's preamble, as recorded in the Bible and commentaries preserved over multiple millennia include stories of, Adam, Malchi-Tzedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, David and a 1000 year lineage of kings. So why was conquering the mountain a go-no-go event for David and why did he risk his fragile kingdom to capture it?

To answer that I offer the following pictorial study of the early through late bronze age (4000-3300 years ago) artifacts that preceded King David (3000 years ago) on Mount Moriah.

Passage out of cave home, north to steel steps
Inside cave home (south of steel steps) on the lower
eastern slope of Mt Moriah
Early bronze graveside pottery discovered by Parker north of iron steps
Connection arrives at upper ridge altar and liquids channel
Connection from top of iron steps to upper ridge

Upper ridge steel bedrock and steel cabinet
Standing stone/pillar or matzevah on upper ridge

Oil press on upper ridge (north end)

V-markings on upper ridge (animal processing - south end)

Double wall fortress of Zion
north of upper ridge, south of Gihon spring
View from upper ridge into the double wall fortress of Zion

 More at this interactive map 

The massive double wall of the fortress of Zion was built up the steep eastern slope of Mount Moriah. It was an enormously complex feat of architecture and engineering during the middle and late Bronze Age. It could not have been accomplished by the small local population alone. They must have obtained the full support of the alliance and there must have been a deeply rooted reason to dedicate resources required for its construction because the water of the adjacent Gihon Spring was not protected by it.

The artists rendition of the eastern slope of Mt Moriah demonstrates how the double wall fortress of Zion circa 3300 years ago may once have cut access across north-south directions on the eastern slope. The city wall was a later addition circa 2700 years ago before the destruction of the first temple.

The ~2700 year old city wall can be seen
in the upper section of this image on top
 of an older wall connected to the bedrock
Connect the blue plastic to piece together remnant of the
 southern element of the double wall fortress of Zion

Apparently the allied forces opposing Israel did not want Israel to come back to the mountain and particularly this section on the south section of the eastern slope. Why and why did King David make sure to conquer this mountain in order to unify his kingdom?

Eli Shukron, the lead archaeologist who excavated these discoveries, contradicts the view that this area was especially important to Israel because it was the original Beit El designated by Jacob. It was once known as Luz, and Salem previous to that. It was the area that Malchi-Tzedek practiced as high priest, where Abraham tithed to him, Isaac was offered as a sacrifice and Jacob erected the pillar, standing stone or matzevah. For these reasons Israel's allied enemies were intent on permanently isolating it and they did all they could to ensure the impracticality of its future. These are my opinions, I invite you to form yours!