One usually associates the name “Zion” with the ancient
city of Jerusalem, since it is a higher elevation and more readily
defensible that some of the lower hills in the area, and at first
glance it would seem most appropriate. Jerusalem, like Rome, is built
on seven hills, three of which form the center of the old city: Moriah,
the Temple Mount, where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac,
and where Solomon built the first Temple; Zion, the location of David’s
tomb and the site of the last supper, whose name came to be associated
with the entire area; and Ophel, the lower spur that extends from
the Temple Mount.
It is on Mount Ophel where the ancient Jebusites
built their city, primarily because of a water supply that was
not available on Zion. David was able to breach the Jebusite defenses
by sending Joab up the water shaft that supplied the city, a feat
that earned him command of David’s forces. Jebus thus became
the City of David. and the center of his power.
Kathleen Kenyon had begun excavating the site from 1961 to 1967.
She had been the most recent in a long line of archaeologists to
work the site since 1863. Yigal Shiloh of Hebrew University resumed
the work in 1978. I joined with other volunteers during the 1983
season, and last spoke with Professor Shiloh in 1985, shortly after
he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died in 1987 at the age