Personal Account at Emek Tzurim- Page 1 | Elie Rosen | City Of David


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Personal Account at Emek Tzurim- Page 1 | Elie Rosen

One of the most recent stories emerging from Jerusalem reads like a thrilling pulp fiction novel, including heroes and antagonists, backdoor political maneuvering, and a threat to the delicate Middle East geopolitical balance. This story, surprisingly, does not come from the corridors of governmental agencies, but rather from the equally hot-blooded world of Bible Land Archeology
This reporter meets the protagonist of the story, Zachi Zweig, in Emek Tzurim, the national park in East Jerusalem situated between the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus (site of Hebrew University). Zweig’s last few years have been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows: he has butted heads with prominent bureaucrats and even been arrested in pursuit of his latest archeological project. His project, together with Dr. Gabriel Barkay, is no wonder, one of the most important in biblical archeological history: the sifting of material from the Temple Mount.
At our appointed meeting time, Zweig emerged from his car, wearing a wicker hat and dark glasses, and cutting the figure of a modern day treasure hunter. And through the course of our conversation, it is clear that Zweig’s maverick effect mirrors his personality: he is both ambitious and impatient, wasting little time on irrelevant questions. In light of the road ahead, it is easy to understand why: the material he and his team are examining amounts to roughly 6000 cubit meters or eight seasons of archeological work.
To locate the origins of the story, we have to go back to 1999, when as a graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, Zweig heard that the Muslim Waqf (the governing body that overseas the Temple Mount) was removing material from an illicit dig near the front of the substructure, known as Solomon’s Stables, and emptying the archeologically rich material in the Kidron Valley.
In so doing, he halted one of the worse archeological crimes in history. Without his initiative, and the Ir David Foundation’s administrative and financial backing, these priceless artifacts of history would have been lost forever.


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