Because the story of the Parker Mission has never been told so completely as it is in this article, BAR asked the author to provide extensive documentation. The citations in the text refer to his sources.



New York Times May 7; 14, 1911. For a concise account of the origin of the affair, see Jerry Landay, Silent Cities, Sacred Stones. (New York: 1971), p. 219. For a deeper glimpse into the workings of a truly unique mind, see Valter H. Juvelius, Judarnes Tiderakning i ny belysning. (Kuopio: 1906).


The precise nature of this “treasure” was never officially described, and varies in the different printed accounts. In the London Times of May 5, 1911, it is “the treasure of the tombs of David and Solomon.” In the New York Times of May 4, 1911, it is “the treasure of the Jewish kings, and ancient tablets which will set to rest all doubts concerning the resurrection of Christ.” This was amended in a later edition (May 5), which reported that the expedition was seeking “the gold encrusted Ark of the Covenant.”


The latest and most important of these is a 1549-foot subterranean tunnel dug by King Hezekiah c. 700 B.C. at the time of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. This tunnel was designed to bring water from the unprotected Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley into the city itself. Surrounding and intertwined with it are earlier water tunnels, shafts, and aqueducts—evidence of the importance of the Gihon Spring and its intimate connections with the ancient city. For more details, see Hershel Shanks, The City of David.


New York Times May 7, 1911.


New York Times May 4; 5, 1911; Chicago Tribune May 4, 1911.


Bertha Spafford Vester, Our Jerusalem. (Garden City, N.Y. 1950), p. 213.


New York Times May 4, 1911; London Times May 5, 1911.


Vester, pp. 211–2.


London Times September 16, 1911; Vester, p. 212.


New York Times May 7, 1911; Chicago Tribune May 5, 1911. Both accounts include the testimony of Professor Richard Gottheil of Columbia University who spent the year at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem.


Vincent relates the story of his joining the expedition in Underground Jerusalem. (London: 1912), pp. 1–2; For another version, cf. Vester, p. 212.


Vester, pp. 212–3. Although the traditional site of David’s Tomb is on Mount Zion, the renowned French archaeologist and diplomat Charles Clermont-Ganneau suggested that the huge bend in Hezekiah’s Tunnel was made to avoid the authentic tombs of David and Solomon above it, see Shanks, pp. 66–70. This too might have been an objective of the Parker Expedition, but the facts of the matter are unclear. In any case, the Jewish community was clearly suspicious of Parker, and exerted what influence it had to prevent any damage to this important site.


London Times May 5, 1911.


London Times September 16, 1911; New York Times May 6, 1911; Underground Jerusalem, p. 2.


Vester, p. 213. Raymond Weill excavated on the Ophel under the patronage of Baron Rothschild in 1913–14, and cleared a wide section of the site, uncovering two badly damaged rock hewn cavities which he identified as the remains of the Royal Tombs. See Raymond Weill, La Cite de David. (Paris: 1920), pp. 157–73; for an opposing view, cf. Kathleen Kenyon, Digging Up Jerusalem. (London 1974), p. 156.


London Times September 16, 1911.


The complete archaeological record of the excavation on the Ophel was assembled by Père Vincent in Underground Jerusalem. Later, Parker himself claimed that the finding of the Bronze Age city was the major achievement of the excavation. Interview, London Times May 5, 1911. A preliminary report was issued by Vincent in “Les Recentes fouilles d’Ophel”, Revue Biblique 8 (1911), pp. 566ff.


New York Times May 5, 1911.


New York Times May 4, 1911; New York Tribune May 7, 1911; London Times May 5, 1911.


New York Times May 4, 1911.


New York Times May 14, 1911; Vester, p. 213.


For the ancient traditions associated with the “Well of the Spirits,” see Zev Vilnay, Legends of Jerusalem. (Philadelphia: 1973), pp. 26–7.


New York Times May 14, 1911; R. P. LaGrange, “La Pretendue Violation de la Mosquee d’Omar,” Revue Biblique 8 (1911), pp. 440–2.


Vester, p. 214.


New York Times May 4, 1911; London Times May 5, 1911.


New York Times May 14, 1911; London Times May 5, 1911.


New York Times May 14, 1911; Vester, p. 214.


New York Times May 7, 1911. The seven column headline read: HAVE ENGLISHMEN DISCOVERED THE ARK OF THE COVENANT?; London Illustrated News. May 13; 20, 1911.


London Times May 5, 1911; New York Tribune May 8, 1911.


A battle raged in the pages of the Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement in the ensuing months. See PEFQS (1912), Gustav Dalman, “The Search for the Temple Treasure at Jerusalem,” pp. 35–9; Charles Warren, “Recent Excavations on the Hill of Ophel,” pp. 68–74; and a defense by Père Vincent himself, pp. 131–4.


London Times May 16; June 5, 15, 1911; New York Times May 16, 1911.


London Times September 23, 1911.


London Times October 30, 1911.