Our archaeology project is located at Mount Zion, which is a relatively small hill, positioned on the southern extent of the old city of Jerusalem, and on the northern side of the Hinom Valley. Mount Zion is shrouded in the mystery of religious texts, traditions and legends.
The importance of Mount Zion is highlighted by the fact that it is one of the most visited religious sites in Israel, second only to the Western Wall. Jewish tradition has it as the location of the tomb of King David. Christian tradition has it as the site for such important events as the Last Supper, washing of the disciples feet, the resurrection appearance, gathering of the disciples and descent of the Holy Spirit which were all said to have happened in the Cenacle Room which is located above the Tomb of King David. Yet despite the intensity of religious significance relatively little archaeological work has been done at this most fascinating location.
Above: Our Lower Courtyard excavation site is positioned inside the old city walls according to the maps of Bliss and Dickie (1895) and located uphill from the UNCC excavations and closer to the summit of the traditional site of Mount Zion . Rod Salinger centre left.
Our program is utilizing a comprehensive suite of high-tech geophysical exploration techniques, including ground penetrating radar, micro seismic, lidar scanning, 3D GIS mapping, followed by targeted archaeological excavations. Our goal is to piece together the history of this most fascinating location.
Our work to date has revealed some significant archaeological features, and we are greatly encouraged by the correlation of what we have found with ancient records. We have to date secured the necessary private land owner agreements, government archaeological excavation permit and have an experienced supervising project archaeologist.
The project is set on the backdrop of a complex web of intriguing traditions and mysteries. One of the major issues is whether Mount Zion is really the site of the tomb of King David? The book of Kings states that King David was buried in the City of David and the book of Chronicles defines Zion as the City of David. Hence, finding the tomb of King David sets the location of the City of David, which then sets the location of Mount Zion, that then takes us closer to solving the big questions that archaeologists and theologians have often pondered.
With the potential discovery of a tomb of such magnitude as King David there is opportunity of finding important artifacts and ancient records that could help us piece together an essential part of the history of the ancient world.
Above: The southern wall of the Tomb of King David showing what is believed to be second Temple / Herodian Stones
The Biblical record mentions Mount Zion in over 150 places and at times in the most glowing of terms. The book of Psalms 48:3 states: " .....Fairest all sites and joy of the entire earth is Mount Zion.".
One of the greatest tangible mysteries of the Bible is recorded by Isaiah who says " ... God has hidden his face from the house Yaakov, my hope is to him (that he will reveal his face) ....God master of legions who lives in Mount Zion. " What this means remains a mystery. And it in no small way provides us with the impetus to dedicate our attention to this most fascinating of locations.
Another intriguing aspect about the texts referring to Mount Zion is highlighted in the book of Chronicles, where King Solomon is recorded as saying that Mount Zion was so holy that even his beautiful wife, the daughter of Pharoah, was not able to live there.
The project has to date, been privately funded by the Salinger family from Canada and Australia. Over $1 million has been spent in the initial study and work programs and in securing site lease land tenures.
We are now in an exciting phase of the project's development with opportunity for you to participate in this most exciting program, that we anticipate will bring ancient history to life through an innovative and extensive archaeological program.
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