Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

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Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by skfarblum on September 22nd 2013, 3:09 am

Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries
Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News 

Sep. 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM ET






Jerusalem has been a religious and historical hot spot for millennia, and yet it still manages to surprise the experts.

Why does the city continue to yield unexpected revelations about the days of King David and Jesus — seemingly in plain sight of its residents? One big reason is that it's devilishly difficult to tease out the history of a place where every acre is closely guarded and deeply coveted.

"It's a living city, and it's a city that's been inhabited continuously for thousands of years," Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told NBC News. "Unless, God forbid, the city is ever completely abandoned, we'll never get a complete picture."

Magness is one of the scientific stars of a new movie titled "Jerusalem." The movie, opening this week, takes advantage of IMAX 3-D technology to produce an ultra-big-screen vision of the city, its history and its people.

On one level, the film is an eye-popping travelogue, zooming above centuries-old landmarks and down through the city's claustrophobic alleys, tunnels and bazaars. On another level, it's a study of the human dynamics behind what narrator Benedict Cumberbatch (of "Sherlock" and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" fame) calls "the most fought-over piece of land in history."

That part of the story is presented through the perspective of three young women — a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian. We also get a look at three seasons and places venerated by those three world religions: Ramadan at the Dome of the Rock, High Holy Days at the Western Wall, and Holy Week at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

"Here we still have the same Easter like 2,000 years ago," Nadia Tadros, who comes from a Christian family in Jerusalem, says in the movie.

The sensitivity to all those traditions is one of the biggest challenges facing archaeologists as they try to piece together the story of Jerusalem's past, going back to the Jebusites (also known as the Canaanites) who settled there 5,000 years ago.

Jerusalem's giant puzzle
"Understanding ancient Jerusalem is like trying to put together a giant puzzle, where we're missing most of the pieces and we don't know what the original picture looked like," Magness says in the film. "Everything that we dig up out of the ground is a new piece of the puzzle."

Sometimes there are strokes of incredible luck — as when Bedouin shepherds found the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave in the Judean desert in 1947. But more often, the discoveries come about as a side effect of urban demolition or road construction, or as the result of long negotiations with Jerusalem's current residents.

 
"Most of the city, archaeologically, is still unexplored and unknown. ... What we have are just little snapshots of what really are random parts of the city," Magness told NBC News.

And even if the archaeologists could dig through the city, Magness said the picture wouldn't be complete. "Every time archaeologists excavate, we destroy the evidence," she explained. "Archaeology is destruction. Once you pull those stones out of the wall, or dig up that floor, you can never put it back."

That's the case with one of Jerusalem's latest finds: a 1st-century Jewish mansion that was unearthed at Mount Zion, just a stone's throw away from where Herod the Great's Second Temple once stood. It's not yet clear who lived in the mansion, but there's a chance that its residents could have included one of the priests who played a role in the biblical tale of Jesus' trial.

James Tabor, a biblical scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who serves as a co-director for the project, noted that excavators had to dig through layers of rubble from the city's Islamic and Byzantine eras to get to the mansion's ruins. "When we dig down and touch these past civilizations and past stories, it's not as though the people have all disappeared," Tabor told NBC News. "The Armenians, the Catholics, the Greeks, the Protestants, the Muslims and all the varieties of Judaism are all around us."

High-tech windows on the past
Fortunately, there are new ways to identify Jerusalem's ancient monuments without destroying them in the process. Ground-penetrating radar can pinpoint subsurface sites of potential interest before a single rock is broken. Other imaging techniques, such as laser scanning and aerial photography, reveal details that archaeologists on the ground might miss.


Still other technologies provide new ways to present Jerusalem's wonders to a global audience. One of the most thrilling scenes in "Jerusalem" starts out with Magness showing a tour group around the monumental walls of the Temple Mount, and ends up morphing into a computer-generated reconstruction of the Second Temple. Other scenes compare present-day settings with how the same location looked in historical photographs or virtual views of the ancient past.

The website for "Jerusalem" provides virtual tours of ancient sites, but there's nothing to compare with seeing the city's past and present come together in 3-D on a giant screen.

"I don't know if Jerusalem ever looked so good," Magness said.
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by laura ann on June 23rd 2014, 1:09 pm

I personally believe it is all about timing. Things are revealed when it is  time for them to be . A person could dig a place for years and never find anything because it is not time yet.
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by skfarblums on June 23rd 2014, 1:47 pm

Hi Laura,
Yes there is definitely something to what you have written.I am reading a fascinating
book about the sphinx and how there are certainly hidden chambers beneath it and
even a possible underground passage to the great pyramid.In our modern times
none of this has conclusively been rediscovered.
According to legend there is meant to be secret information from the star gods
hidden away some where in Egypt.It is possible that at the right time this information
may be discovered.
Nice to talk to you on the forum again.

Stephen
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by laura ann on June 23rd 2014, 1:56 pm

I am in total agreement with this as well.  I have  always known and have been shown the   pyraminds are energy vortex centers. Call them the bottom part of  Zero point.

And yes I have seen the tunnels. Many beings still live below ground and travel the entire world  underground through the tunnels. many go there  during sleep time  to  work, study etc. Other times of course we go upward .

I sent you a birthday  email btw lol
we all need to walk away  at times especially when   unnecessary and unwarranted attacks become frequent........just saying

What if the tunnels are  a metaphores for the human  vascular system of which our energy travels through  constantly
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by skfarblums on June 23rd 2014, 2:35 pm

Strange.You birthday wishes never arrived.Thanks very much.
70 years old now.Feel like I am 25 .I am just grateful.
Anyway I am of to bed.
Lovely chatting to you again.
Stephen
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by laura ann on June 23rd 2014, 3:21 pm

checked my sent box and I had sent to gmail acct...
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Re: Why Jerusalem still hangs onto ancient archaeological mysteries

Post by skfarblums on June 23rd 2014, 11:21 pm

Thanks for letting me know.I had an error in my gmail settings.
Should be alright now.
Thanks again for your good wishes.
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