Archaeological excavations are tied to the political conflict in Jerusalem from two distinct aspects: one is the appropriation of land to be excavated, which can be interpreted as a means of control over a certain place or area. The second is the focus on the past, which can be seen as an instrument for appropriating the past to one particular group and its narrative. For these reasons, all archaeological activity in the Old City of Jerusalem is perceived as threatening and political. Nonetheless, the excavations do not all impact on the political situation to the same degree. Some are conducted in light of residents or merchants’ needs, are limited in their range and do not turn into national projects.
While reviews of specific archaeological excavations and their implications abound, the chapters in this booklet offer a broad picture of the local archaeological projects. As we understand it, focusing on one event or archaeological dig does not permit an inclusive view of the full complexity of the situation, which must be comprehended in the context of socio-economic conditions in the Old City, its density, and the political battle for sovereignty.
As far as archaeology in the Old City of Jerusalem goes, it appears there is no end to research options. In this publication we concentrate on the effect of central digs in the Old City, digs whose placement and size exacerbate the surrounding divisions. The information is offered in three parts. The first chapter deals with the main recent excavations in the Old City; the second focuses on archaeology in the holy sites; the third describes the digging of tunnels and caverns underground beneath the busy streets of the Old City and Silwan village.