Israel unveils archaeological garden in Jerusalem’s Old City

“Everything we are doing in Jerusalem is in order to reassure and confirm our existence here.”

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May 8, 2017 19:03
3 minute read.
Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant tours the Old City’s new archeological garden 8/5/2017

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant tours the Old City’s new archeological garden 8/5/2017.. (photo credit: MEIR ELIPOUR)

 
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Construction Minister Yoav Galant on Monday reiterated the unbreakable bond between the Jewish people and Jerusalem at the unveiling of the Davidson Center’s Archeological Garden of Jerusalem, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the capital’s reunification.

Situated near the Temple Mount, around the southwestern section of the Western Wall, the garden features antiquities from the Second Temple, early Muslim and Byzantine periods collected since the end of the Six Day War.

Galant, who has long championed the many initiatives of the Company for the Restoration and Development of the Jewish Quarter, which spearheaded the project, said the timing of the unveiling is significant and symbolic.

“Everything we are doing in Jerusalem is in order to reassure and confirm our existence here,” said the celebrated former commander of the IDF’s Southern Command.

“The Israeli history and tradition – and, of course, the Jewish tradition – is very important,” he said. “Therefore, this exhibition is special because it memorializes the unique moment of the reunification of Jerusalem, which to our generation is one of the most important things to take place since the establishment of the State of Israel.”

Asked what message he has for UNESCO following its recent resolution denying Israeli sovereignty of Jerusalem, Galant recommended the organization’s ambassadors and delegates take an overdue history lesson.

“They should learn from history – from the Romans and all the others – that it is impossible to defeat the Jewish spirit,” he said. “And the Zionist movement is the answer that we have since the last 100 years in order to symbolize what it means to come back to our homeland.”

In terms of ongoing international condemnation over the expanding housing developments for Jews beyond the capital’s Green Line, Galant said he is far more optimistic under the nascent Trump administration.

“I believe that this administration is more reasonable [than the Obama administration] and has more common sense about Israel and the world because bad is bad, evil is evil, and good is good,” he said.

“And [US] President [Donald] Trump and his administration know very well that the bright spot in the Middle East is Israel.

Therefore, I believe they will support us.”

According to Pini Refael, manager of education and tourism for the Company for the Restoration and Development of the Jewish Quarter, the garden showcases nearly 3,000 years of history in the historic area, surrounding a corner of the Temple Mount compound.

“Since the Six Day War, there have been a lot of university delegations that have come from across the globe to conduct excavations around the Temple Mount, because no excavations have ever taken place on top of the Temple Mount,” he said. “What happened here is that layer after layer of discoveries were found during digs covering 3,000-square meters that were up to 15 to 20 meters deep, allowing us to arrive at the original main street of the Jewish Quarter.”

While most of the relics unearthed in the area since 1967 are housed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ethan and Marla Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center, located at the entrance to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, the unveiled garden features an array of ruins spanning millennia.

“This takes us back 3,000 years ago, from the days of King Solomon,” Refael said.

“In fact, we found the remains of a gate and wall that date to King Solomon’s period, as well as thousands of coins, ancient jars, seal impressions and stones with Hebrew inscriptions from the Second Temple period.”

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