Reading Group Center

Under Jerusalem

By Andrew Lawler

1. How did the Jerusalem of the 1860s differ from today’s city?

2. How did scientific advances and the growth of colonial empires in the nineteenth century rekindle the interest of Europeans in Jerusalem?

3. What was the reaction of Jerusalem’s Jewish and Muslim communities to early excavations by European Christians?

4. Explorers have sought the Ark of the Covenant under Jerusalem for well over a century. How did these efforts change the city above?

5. Why were the British so eager to control Jerusalem?

6. How did Jewish and Muslim views of the city’s past, and the search for physical remains of that past, differ?

7. What impact did European archaeologists have on the burgeoning Zionist movement of the late nineteenth century?

8. The 1967 Six Days War opened Jerusalem to extensive Jewish-led excavations. Why did archaeology become so central to Israel’s identity in its wake?

9. Why did many religious Jews and rabbis oppose archaeological work by Israel teams in Jerusalem?

10. Who was responsible for the bulldozing of one corner of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in 1999, and how did that event alter Israeli archaeology and politics?

11. Why did British and, later, Israeli excavators devote so much effort to the area south of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif? What did they find—and not find?

12. Who owns or controls what lies beneath Jerusalem?

13. Why did the 1996 opening of a new exit in the Western Wall Tunnel spark such widespread violence? How did this act alter efforts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine?

14. Does the Temple Sifting Project produce results that are scientifically valuable? If not, what is its purpose?

15. Why did the realm beneath the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif became so central in the 1990s peace negotiations? What role did it play in the talks’ collapse?

16. How did David Be’eri and his City of David Foundation/Elad shape our understanding of the Judean past of Jerusalem?

17. What role do Palestinian archaeologists play in unearthing Jerusalem’s past? Should they play a role?

18. Should France relinquish the Tomb of the Kings to Israel?

19. How is archaeology used as a political tool by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What are some examples of this?

20. How do Israeli and foreign archaeologists respond to ethical dilemmas of digging in areas the international community deems occupied territory? Has that changed over time?

21. Explain how today’s political and religious environment in Jerusalem alters the way archaeology is done, and how the findings are interpreted.