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 of 50.

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Images from the City of David :
(Click large image for larger image)