Friday, August 05, 2005

King David woz 'ere

The NYT today is running an article on the foundations of a 10th century bc building uncovered in East Jerusalem by Hebrew U archaeologist and Shalem Center Senior Fellow Eilat Mazar (also well known as a spokesperson on archaeological issues surrounding Temple Mount).
Mazar is claiming that the building is possibly King David's Palace -- which would certainly be exciting. Her colleagues seem somewhat sceptical, but agree that regardless, the building is certainly important, as it is a rare archaeological connection to the kingdom of David and Solomon, and could help clarify long-standing arguments over how large/powerful the kingdom actually was etc.
Of-course, the NYT immediately places this discovery in the context of the Palestinians' long-standing attempts to disprove any historical connection between the Jews and the land of Israel (I'm not faulting the NYT for this, as it is indeed one of the contexts):
Hani Nur el-Din, a Palestinian professor of archaeology at Al Quds University, said he and his colleagues considered biblical archaeology an effort by Israelis "to fit historical evidence into a biblical context." He added: "The link between the historical evidence and the biblical narration, written much later, is largely missing. There's a kind of fiction about the 10th century. They try to link whatever they find to the biblical narration. They have a button, and they want to make a suit out of it."
Of-course, it's the Palestinians' deliberate destruction of biblical archaeology (eg. on Temple Mount) which is the real attempt to distort history -- and fit the evidence into a context suiting them (ie. no ancient Jewish connection to the land). But anyway. The point is that however flimsy the evidence for the Palestinians' bizarre claims about the Jews' roots in Israel, it is regrettably a front we have to fight because they have proven too many times that if you repeat lies enough times, they become truth.*
Which is why I wish Eilat Mazar would go easy on the King David assertions. There have been too many cases recently where archaeological artifacts which purportedly showed a Jewish connection to Israel have been proven fakes -- and then our credibility, and narrative, are undermined. It's clear this building is important either way. I'd rather we stuck to that, at least until we have strong evidence, rather than made claims about its connection to David which we later have to damagingly retract.

* I should add, as I think we've said on this blog before, that any attempt to undermine ancient Jewish connections to the land of Israel is also a challenge to Christian's history; Christians really should be fighting this battle with us.

7 comments:

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