Our lead article in this issue is a brilliant, important and authoritative review of the archaeological evidence for Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon by Jane Cahill, who is responsible for the official publication of much of this material, recovered in the excavation of the City of David led by the late Yigal Shiloh between 1978 and 1985.
A small portion of the evidence for Jerusalem in the time of the United Monarchy, however, comes from an area of Shiloh’s excavation for which Jane is not responsible. That evidence comes from an area for which archaeologist Alon De Groot is responsible. As a courtesy, Jane suggested that that material be written for us by Alon. So we called Alon and asked him to write a short sidebar on this material, known as the “cultic corner.” He said he would be happy to write it. But later he advised us that he would not be able to. His employer, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), had forbade him because it was to be published in BAR.
Another young employee of the IAA, Rafi Lewis, had written some important notes about a conversation regarding the famous James ossuary, which is inscribed with a reference to Jesus (see “Shanks Replies to Gibson” in “Update—Finds or Fakes?”). Rafi was quite willing to give us a copy of his notes, he said. But later he said that his employer had forbade him from giving the notes to us, even though they were his private property and were written before he had become an IAA employee. He was directed to have “no contact” with BAR and apologized for what he was required to do.
Ronny Reich, Israel’s leading archaeologist regarding Jerusalem, wanted a small extension of the area of his excavation permit near the Gihon Spring so that he could investigate a cistern that had previously been only partially excavated but which had yielded important evidence of a synagogue in Jerusalem long before Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. What further evidence of the synagogue is in the unexcavated part of the cistern is unknown. The extension of the excavation permit was denied, however. According to twice verified evidence, the director of the IAA, former General Shuka Dorfman, refused the permit extension because the money for the excavation was coming through BAR.
Why is Shuka so mad?
The easy answer is that he is mad because BAR has been critical of the IAA committee’s deeply flawed ruling that the ossuary inscription is a forgery. But that’s too easy. The fact is that Shuka was hopping mad at BAR even before the IAA came out with its committee report. Shuka has been mad at us ever since BAR published Sorbonne professor André Lemaire’s article on the ossuary inscription in our November/December 2002 issue. Shuka, we are told, was embarrassed when the press queried him about the ossuary inscription the day after our publication—and he knew nothing about it. He 062felt we should have advised him in advance of our publication of the article.
To make matters worse, Shuka himself (or, more precisely, one of his subordinates) had authorized the export of the ossuary for exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto during the annual meeting of the Society for Biblical Literature. The application to export the ossuary had been made by the ossuary’s owner, Oded Golan, but Shuka has apparently placed the blame on BAR.
To add to Shuka’s embarrassment, the application for permission to export the ossuary called attention to the inscription, reciting its exact wording. But Shuka didn’t recognize the importance of the inscription!
Figuratively red-faced and sputtering, Shuka directed his wrath at the easiest target: BAR.
Some say this is the source not only of the anger at BAR but of the IAA’s antipathy to the ossuary inscription and its seeming determination to find the inscription a modern forgery.
Be that as it may, you will find the sidebar on the so-called “cultic corner” that accompanies Jane Cahill’s article on Jerusalem in the time of the United Monarchy written by the BAR staff, assembled from the scholarly literature on the subject, but we gladly acknowledge Alon De Groot as the scholar responsible for this material. We look forward to the time when he will be allowed to write for BAR under his own name.
Our lead article in this issue is a brilliant, important and authoritative review of the archaeological evidence for Jerusalem in the time of David and Solomon by Jane Cahill, who is responsible for the official publication of much of this material, recovered in the excavation of the City of David led by the late Yigal Shiloh between 1978 and 1985. A small portion of the evidence for Jerusalem in the time of the United Monarchy, however, comes from an area of Shiloh’s excavation for which Jane is not responsible. That evidence comes from an area for which archaeologist Alon […]