Although we owe our present knowledge of the City of David to many scholars, Kathleen Kenyon and Yigal Shiloh stand out as giants. Kenyon brought Jerusalem archaeology into the modern era, while Shiloh later applied newer Israeli methods to the difficult conditions under which archaeologists in Jerusalem must work.

Before her excavations in Jerusalem, Kathleen Kenyon pioneered the use of the stragraphic method in what was then Palestine. Born in London in 1906, she graduated from Oxford with a degree in history in 1929 and soon began taking part in excavations, first at the ruins of Great Zimbabwe in Africa and then the Roman-British site of Verulamium (St. Albans). At St. Albans, during the summers of 1930–1936, she learned the basics of the stratigraphic method, which had been developing since early in the century. During those years, Kenyon also spent three spring seasons excavating at Samaria. It was there that she introduced the techniques she had learned at St. Albans to the archaeology of Palestine.

Jericho, the first major excavation that Kenyon was in charge of (1952–1958), became the model site for her method. This consisted of digging small sections of earth to very deep levels, while leaving unexcavated walls of earth (called balks) at intervals between so that evidence of the site’s stratigraphy was preserved. Each level was recorded in three dimensions, using drawings and photographs from several angles. Kenyon’s work at Jericho established a long chronological sequence of artifacts. It demonstrated the errors of less careful excavators and highlighted the potential of her method for other sites as well. Indeed, her next major site was the City of David (1961–1968), and although she had not yet published the final report at the time of her death in 1978, her contribution was nonetheless tremendous.a Among other things, she established for the first time a framework for the city’s 3,800-year history.

Kenyon concluded her work with a challenge: “Would-be excavators must … be warned that [excavation on the eastern slope of the City of David] involves laborious, and even perilous, penetration through layers of rubble and silt … I have had my fill of this; I wish well to future excavators, and I am sure that if they have the necessary perseverance thay will add details to the history of Jerusalem.”b

Yigal Shiloh took up call, leading the next major excavation from 1978 to 1985. Born in 1937, Shiloh was trained in the tradition of Israeli archaeology that emerged in the early years of the State. Shiloh’s excavation of the City of David was characterized by a multi-disciplinary approach, using the insights of the physical sciences in particular and a combination of excavation methods, including Kenyon’s method as well as the more “big picture”-oriented architectural approach developed by Israeli archaeologists, which focused on architectural features. Unfortuantely, like Kenyon, Shiloh died before a final reprot of his excavation could be published. A number of scholars are publishing the results of his excavation, including the author of the accompanying article, Dr. Jane Cahill.

Recently, the baton has passed to senior Israeli archaeologist Ronny Reich and his assistant director, Eli Shukron. From 1994–1996, Reich conducted major excavations along the western side of the Temple Mount (Robinson’s Arch), at the Dung Gate and the Ophel road. Since 1995 he and Shukron have been directing an ongoing dig at the City of David near the Gihon Spring. Their discoveries have included towers guarding the spring and a second, outer, city wall dating to the eighth century B.C.E.

No doubt some young archaeologist, just in training today, will take up the challenge of being Jerusalem’s next great excavator. There is always more to learn.—M.S.