After ice was taken from Mount Kilimanjaro in 2000, scientists set to work analyzing the valuable samples. When they investigated what had been taken from the famous landmark, however, the experts found something entirely unexpected – and completely stunning. You see, the ice doesn’t just tell us a great deal about how our planet has changed over the millennia. It also appears that the fragments could be evidence to support a well-known Bible passage in the Book of Genesis.
That said, ice cores – including those ones from Kilimanjaro – can often shed light on events in human history. Scientists extract the cores by drilling into glaciers and ice sheets around the world – everywhere from the tropics to the polar regions – either by hand or with specialist machinery. And as power-drilled cores can travel to depths in excess of two miles, elements of that ice may have been on the planet for as long as 800,000 years.
But how can these cores tell us so much about the Earth? Well, many ice fields and glaciers have been formed over millennia, and as each layer of ice is added it creates a record of the climate during that time. For example, water may contain preserved bubbles of air that originate from the period in which it froze. And these findings can then be examined in a lab in order to decipher information such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during a particular era.
In that way, ice cores can provide key information about former climatic conditions on our planet. But that’s not all. In some cases, you see, the cores can also help us to understand events in human history for which there is no credible documentation. And, on occasion, they may be able to prove that fables such as those contained in the Bible actually do have some basis in fact.
Furthermore, as we’ve already mentioned, those ice cores from Mount Kilimanjaro did seem to confirm a story from the Old Testament. We’ll look at the precise details of the discovery in a moment, but first, let’s learn more about Kilimanjaro itself. And this tale takes us back many millions of years – to a time before humans had evolved in Africa.
As some may know, Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park. Geography buffs will tell you, too, that the United Republic of Tanzania – to give the country its proper name – is located on the east coast of the African continent and has borders with eight other nations, including Kenya and Uganda. Tanzania’s 885 miles of coast also overlooks the Indian Ocean, a sprawling mass of water stretching from East Africa all the way to Southeast Asia and Australia. But the geography of Tanzania is at its most extreme in the nation’s interior. The majority of the country’s land is over 500 feet above sea level, for starters. And then there’s the breathtaking Lake Tanganyika, which – in stark contrast to the soaring heights of Tanzania’s peaks – is actually one of the deepest lakes anywhere in the world.
Kilimanjaro National Park, meanwhile, sits near Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya and covers 652 square miles. And the sprawling land in fact plays home to a group of indigenous people: the Bantu-speaking Chaga, who migrated to the area from about the 11th century onwards. The Chaga’s economy is largely based on agriculture, and their arabica coffee beans are exported around the world.
The Chaga are certainly not alone in the park, however, as the attraction also hosts a wide variety of wildlife – including elephants and leopards. Also living on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro is the tree hyrax – a nocturnal mammal with a bushy coat that is actually a distant relative of the elephant. Blue monkeys, western black and white colobuses and Cape buffaloes have all taken up residence in Kilimanjaro National Park, too.
Mount Kilimanjaro itself, meanwhile, consists of three peaks – all of which have been formed from currently inactive volcanoes. This trio is comprised of Kibo, which has a summit 16,893 feet above sea level; Mawenzi, which rises to 16,893 feet; and Shira, which possesses a summit of 13,140 feet from sea level. Of the three, however, only Kibo could potentially erupt again in the future.
Shira’s life as an active volcano started around two and a half million years ago, with this explosive period lasting for some 600,000 years. Today, though, Shira has a large plateau at around 12,500 feet that is surrounded by the remnants of its caldera – or the lipped edge typical of a volcanic mountain. The caldera has been much reduced over the millennia, too, as the result of erosion.
The volcanic activity from Kibo and Mawenzi, though, was much more recent – taking place about one million years ago. And, as it happens, Mawenzi and Kibo also have a plateau between them – known as the Saddle – at an altitude of about 14,400 feet. All of Kilimanjaro’s rugged peaks also have a range of features, including secondary summits, pinnacles and ridges that have been formed by the eroding action of wind and rain.
The environment around the dormant volcano is pretty verdant to boot. About 1,000 square miles of the land around the mountains are forested, although the Kilimanjaro foothills are cultivated by local farmers. There, they harvest a selection of crops, including beans, sunflowers, maize and wheat. The coffee mentioned earlier grows a little higher up the slopes, however, at an altitude of around 3,000 to 6,000 feet.
As for the highest of the three Kilimanjaro peaks? Well, it appears that Kibo last erupted between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. Evidence for this comes in the form of fumaroles – breaches in the rock surface that still give off gases. Kibo’s caldera, meanwhile, is a little over one and a half miles across and includes the Reusch Crater. This feature was named after mountaineer Gustav Reusch on the occasion of his 25th climb to the mountain’s summit.
Of course, for East African people, Mount Kilimanjaro has been a familiar landmark for thousands of years. But it was only as recently as 1848 that modern Europeans first got a close-up view of the majestic, ice-covered peaks. And the lucky men in question were two German missionaries: Johann Krapf and Johannes Rebmann.
What’s more, on May 11, 1848, Rebmann wrote an entry in his diary that documented what he and Krapf had seen. According to Hans Meyer’s 1891 book Across East African Glaciers: An Account of the First Ascent of Kilimanjaro, the explorer explained, “This morning, at 10 o’clock, we obtained a clearer view of the mountains of Jagga – the summit of one of which was covered by what looked like a beautiful white cloud.” Jagga was an alternative name for Mount Kilimanjaro at the time.
Rebmann’s diary entry continued, “When I inquired as to the dazzling whiteness, the guide merely called it ‘cold,’ and at once I knew it could be neither more nor less than snow… Immediately I understood how to interpret the marvelous tales Dr. Krapf and I had heard at the coast of a vast mountain of gold and silver in the far interior – the approach to which was guarded by evil spirits.”
Then, once Europeans had managed to reach Kilimanjaro, there were a number of unsuccessful attempts to climb to Kibo’s peak. Finally, in 1889, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller made it to Kibo’s summit, which is on the south side of the mountain’s crater.
Meyer – a German geographer who wrote that aforementioned book about Kilimanjaro – had made the attempt on Kibo twice before but had failed on both occasions. At the age of 31, however, he finally succeeded along with his Austrian mountaineer companion. The two had reached the summit thanks to a carefully planned system of well-supplied base camps.
It would be nearly another 25 years, though, before any European reached the summit of Mawenzi. That technically more arduous climb was conquered in the end by Germans Fritz Klute and Eduard Oehler in 1912. And, of course, ever since those milestones were achieved, people from all around the world have flocked to Kilimanjaro to trek up its slopes. As many as 25,000 visit the mountain each year, in fact.
At well over 19,000 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest peak; it’s also the highest free-standing mountain anywhere in the world. Naturally, the landmark’s height is the reason why it features snow cover and glaciers even though it is in the tropics and relatively close to the Equator. Extraordinarily, though, analyzing this snowy peak would seemingly confirm the story of an ancient biblical drought.
Night-time temperatures on Kilimanjaro’s slopes and summit can fall to as low as −20 °F. Yet despite this, it’s well established that snow cover and glaciers atop the mountain have been shrinking. And while this phenomenon occurred for most of the 20th century – melting was recorded from 1912 to 1953, for instance – ice cover diminution has only continued at a faster pace since then.
Scientists view the decreasing amount of ice on Kilimanjaro as part of a wider global trend of glacial retreat, with some even believing that the material will have disappeared entirely from the mountain by 2060. But while the dissipation of the ice has been linked to climate change, there may also be other local environmental factors at work – such as deforestation.
In any case, in 2000 researchers drilled six cores from Kilimanjaro’s ice as a means of helping determine the causes of the mountain’s disappearing frozen water reserves. A team led by Ohio State University geologist Lonnie Thompson camped for about a month at an altitude of 19,300 feet on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in order to retrieve the cores.
Getting the required samples was hardly easy, either. For one, the operation led by Thompson required no fewer than 25 different permissions from various Tanzanian agencies. And after the team were finally given the green light, they still had to get their equipment up the mountain to the drilling site – a task that ultimately entailed no fewer than 92 porters.
Meanwhile, the holes drilled to extract the cylindrical ice cores varied from 30 to almost 170 feet in length, with most at the higher end of that range. Then, two years after the cores had been obtained, Thompson and several of his colleagues published a paper that was based on analysis of the ice samples and entitled “Kilimanjaro Ice Core Records: Evidence of Holocene Climate Change in Tropical Africa.”
And as the name of that article suggests, the reason why Thompson and his fellow scientists had traveled up Mount Kilimanjaro was in order to study the impact of climate change on those high ice fields. But there was yet another find along the way. Ultimately, you see, the group also appeared to verify a story from the Book of Genesis.
Before we show the relevance of the scientists’ research to that tale in the Old Testament, however, let’s just take a look at the dating methods that they used. First off, the way in which the age of the ice cores was calculated actually had its origins in nuclear bomb tests that had taken place in 1951 and 1952. You see, those tests had actually released an isotope called chlorine-36. And once this radioactive material had been detected in the cores, this could subsequently be used as a marker to date the whole historic extent of the ice cylinders.
Upon investigation, then, the cores offered evidence of a drought in Africa that had started about 8,300 years ago and persisted for some 500 years. Thompson explained this discovery further in a 2002 press release from Ohio State University, saying, “We believe that this represents a time when the lakes of Africa were drying up.” The ice also showed a later drought that took place around 5,200 years ago.
But it was a third drought from about 4,000 years ago – and which lasted for 300 years – that seemingly tied in with the story of Joseph as recorded in the Book of Genesis. And as it happens, that tale is not only found in the Christian Bible but also in the Islamic Qur’an and the Jewish Torah.
As some may already know, the purported events of Joseph’s life are recounted in chapters 37 to 50 of Genesis. And according to this account, the man in question was the 11th son of Jacob, who had been born when his father was married to his second wife Rachel. It seems, too, that Joseph was a particular favorite of his dad’s.
The story goes that Jacob subsequently gave Joseph “a coat of many colors” as a means of showing his affection. But apparently this gift – with its clear connotations of favoritism – made Joseph’s brothers intensely envious. And as Genesis relates, the men’s antagonism towards their young brother was only heightened by the mystical dreams that Joseph claimed to have – as well as his reported ability to interpret them.
Then the Bible claims that the brothers seized Joseph in a fit of envy. Some of Joseph’s siblings are said to have wanted to murder him, in fact, but instead he was supposedly sold into slavery to a band of traders whose camel train was on its way to Egypt. And in order to conceal their crime from Jacob, the brothers reportedly smeared Joseph’s coat with goat’s blood and presented it as evidence that he had died.
So, as the tale relates, Joseph began life in a foreign land as a house slave to a rich Egyptian called Potiphar. Unfortunately, though, Potiphar’s wife Zuleika apparently took a shine to Joseph and made her feelings known. And while Joseph is said to have rebuffed those advances, his reward for loyalty to his master was to be thrown into prison after Zuleika laid false rape charges against him.
The Book of Genesis also says that Joseph’s talent for interpreting the dreams of others came to the fore when he was incarcerated – and that he actually performed such a service for two of his fellow prisoners. These men were no ordinary criminals, either; one had been the Egyptian pharaoh’s chief baker, while the other had worked as the ruler’s cup-bearer. Joseph’s translation of the cup-bearer’s dream, then, was that he would be restored to his previous position. The baker, on the other hand, would be executed. And as the Bible tells it, both prophecies ultimately proved correct.
Then, a couple of years later, the pharoah himself apparently had a strange dream. In this vision, he reputedly saw seven emaciated cattle eating seven well-fed cows; he also imagined seven wilted ears of corn eating seven healthy ears of grain. And although no one at court could tell their ruler what these disturbing scenes meant, the pharaoh’s restored cup-bearer remembered his former prison mate’s dream-interpreting talent.
So, the biblical account claims that the pharaoh sent for Joseph, who would tell the other man the meaning of his dreams. In Joseph’s eyes, it’s said, Egypt would enjoy seven years of plenty before subsequently suffering seven years of famine. And the pharaoh was reportedly so impressed by the former slave that he would appoint him to be his vizier – a senior adviser and official.
As the story explains, Joseph as vizier then set about storing great quantities of grain during the seven good years that followed. In this way, when the seven years of drought and famine came along – just as had been predicted – these grain hoards were able to see Egypt through hard times.
And it’s this period of drought recorded in the Book of Genesis – and which scholars claim took place between approximately 3,600 and 3,700 years ago – that ties in with the findings of Thompson and his team. You’ll remember that the ice cores showed a drought had likely started in the area about 4,000 years ago and extended for some three centuries.
More specifically, the evidence that the scientists had uncovered for this barren period had been a thin layer of dust in the ice cores. And along with the account in Genesis, there are other ancient records that indicate Egypt had been troubled by a drought so severe that it ultimately put the authority of the pharaohs at risk. Before then, parts of the Sahara desert as we know it today had been fertile land.
And this unusual conjunction of biblical storytelling and modern scientific fact seems to further bolster the tale of Joseph’s drought prophecy. Yes, while very few take the Old Testament as literal history, Thompson’s Kilimanjaro ice cores appear to show that verifiable facts from thousands of years ago are nevertheless woven into its tales.
Then, over a decade after Thompson’s discovery, experts in Israel unearthed a historical treasure that suggested yet another biblical story had really occurred. Yes, at Mount Zion in Jerusalem, a group of archaeologists are slaving away in the Middle Eastern heat. And as the team go, they pick through thousands of years of history in a bid to find something significant. Their efforts aren’t in vain, though, as ultimately they’re rewarded with an incredible find – something that may just prove a story from the Bible actually once took place.
It’s perhaps no surprise that the archaeologists struck pay dirt, either, as in the sixth century B.C., a great city – one described in the Bible as a place rich in culture and wealth – stood at the location. And even today, Jerusalem hosts a number of historic sights that provide a window into the area’s past. But because many stories have been told about this land, it sometimes takes an expert to separate fact from fiction.
According to the Bible, Jerusalem fell when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II unleashed his wrath on the Judean king Zedekiah in around 586 B.C. And in the chaos, it’s said, much of the city was destroyed. Even the mighty King Solomon’s Temple was apparently demolished – sparking an archaeological mystery that continues today. But how much of this legend actually has its basis in fact?
Well, before answering that question, it’s worth looking at exactly where the archaeologists’ dig took place. Today, the name Mount Zion is used to refer to an area of Jerusalem known as the Western Hill. Situated in the vicinity of the Old City’s ancient walls, this mound is where many modern excavations take place. And according to some, Mount Zion is the site where the biblical King David constructed his palace.
Jerusalem itself, meanwhile, was first inhabited in around 4,500 B.C. and has seen many changes since, as a succession of invaders conquered its borders. But while history tells us the story of each population, the Bible gives a far more specific version of events. Apparently, the city was home to a community of Canaanite people in the 12th century B.C. – so, before King David arrived.
Then, according to the Bible, in around 1,000 B.C. King David laid siege to Jerusalem and established his own city in its place. There, the leader built his fabled palace, and he declared that this new settlement would be the heart of the Kingdom of Israel. Later, David’s son King Solomon is said to have constructed his own grand temple on the same site.
Nowadays, of course, Jerusalem is integral to a number of religions – not only Judaism, but also Christianity and Islam. As such, the city lies at the heart of the conflict that still rages in the Middle East. And because of this battle for sovereignty, some of the region’s history has become confused. In fact, Western Hill is among three sites that have been identified as Mount Zion over the years.
One of these locations, known as Temple Mount, has been largely off-limits to archaeologists in recent times. Both the Western and Lower Eastern Hills, by contrast, have been subjected to numerous excavations. You see, many believe that the Western Hill contains the true relics of the biblical city – despite evidence that suggests the Eastern Hill was actually once the location of David’s settlement.
Furthermore, today’s Mount Zion has been a hotbed of excavation since at least the 19th century. And in 2007 the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) launched its own Mount Zion Archaeological Project – the first scheme of its kind by an institution from outside Israel. Since then, each summer season has yielded fascinating finds that help to tell the story of this ancient city.
In 2016, for example, UNCC archaeologists unearthed an ancient coin at Mount Zion that is thought to hark back to 56 A.D. Featuring the face of Emperor Nero, the discovery seemingly proved that the Romans had been in Jerusalem some 14 years before they sacked the city. According to researchers, the coin had also likely made its way into one of the wealthy Jewish homes that once existed there. But this is far from the only significant find that the UNCC team have made at Mount Zion.
During one season, you see, the archaeologists uncovered a cup forged from stone that had been inscribed with Hebraic letters. Sensationally, the script on the item was the same as that on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Elsewhere, the group also excavated part of a gate that is said to date back to the time of the Crusades.
Then, on August 11, 2019, the project’s members had an exciting announcement: while excavating at Mount Zion, they had made a string of discoveries linked to the time of the First Crusade. Beginning in 1095, this turbulent period saw Christian armies descend on Jerusalem in an attempt to reclaim the region.
Before the First Crusade, the Holy Land had been under Islamic control since around the seventh century A.D. But after four bloody years, the Christians ultimately wrestled control of the region and took Jerusalem in 1099. And in modern-day Mount Zion, archaeologists discovered evidence that gave them a fascinating insight into how this 11th-century skirmish had played out.
Historically, one account of the siege claimed that the Crusaders were initially foiled by a low ditch around the city. When one military leader pledged gold coins to any soldier who would help block the ditch with stones, though, he had several takers. And although this story is often dismissed as fiction, archaeologists at Mount Zion discovered what they believe to be reliable proof of the tale’s veracity.
For one, the group found a filled-in ditch that seemingly matched the one in the legend. Intriguingly, an ornate piece of jewelry was also unearthed at the location, with the item believed to have belonged to one of the Fatimid Muslims who defended Jerusalem against the Crusaders. And because the trinket was found amongst Christian artifacts, archaeologists are certain that both it and the ditch are relics of the 1099 siege. Yet these were far from the most important discoveries made at Mount Zion during 2019’s summer season.
On the same day, you see, the team announced another incredible find. While excavating the Western Hill, they had uncovered another stunning piece of jewelry that may go on to shed new light on a turbulent period in the history of Jerusalem. What’s more, the artifact appears to date back to 1,700 years before the time of the first Crusade.
Crafted from gold and silver, the piece – a tassel or earring – was obviously of great beauty and value at the time. The decorative treasure features a bell-like upper section as well as a lower part modeled on a bunch of grapes. And even though the item has warped and distorted over time, it remains stunning.
Interestingly, though, the jewelry wasn’t the only thing that the dig site revealed. According to UNCC, archaeologists also discovered significant deposits of ash as well as household items such as lamps and pieces of pottery. A number of arrowheads were also uncovered in the same area.
And, together, these artifacts allowed experts to date the site to around 586 B.C. – a significant point in the story of Jerusalem. Crucially, at that time, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to the city, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.
According to the Bible, Jerusalem was wealthy during the reign of King Zedekiah, who had been previously been put into power by Nebuchadnezzar himself. However, when Zedekiah defied his patron and allied himself with Egypt, the Babylonian launched a siege against the city. And this wasn’t a fight that would be won overnight.
As the biblical story goes, in fact, the siege lasted for many months – perhaps even longer than two years. And as a result of the skirmish, Jerusalem’s citizens experienced many hardships. Then once Nebuchadnezzar finally conquered the city, much of it was razed to the ground – including Solomon’s mighty temple. Ultimately, Zedekiah was also captured and imprisoned in Babylon – but not before having his eyes cut out.
In the Bible, moreover, these events are covered in the second book of Kings. The passage reads, “So the city was besieged unto the 11th year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the [fourth] month, the famine was sore in the city so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war [fled] by night by the way of the gate between the two walls.”
But how much of this tale is based on true events? Well, today, there are two different schools of thought when it comes to interpreting the history of Jerusalem. In short, minimalists want clear, independent evidence that what was recorded actually came to pass, while maximalists seek to use archaeology to support what is written in scripture.
And according to some, this latest discovery is a win for those on the maximalist side of the spectrum. It’s said, for instance, that the artifacts found at Mount Zion specifically point to a period of violence just like that depicted in the Bible. “Here we captured a moment in time, an event in an exact year, with everything that comes with destruction – ash, complete vessels, Scythian arrows,” Dr. Rafi Lewis from Israel’s Ashkelon Academic College told Haaretz in August 2019.
UNCC professor Shimon Gibson also explained the context of the ancient finds when talking to the newspaper. “For archaeologists, an ashen layer can mean a number of different things,” he said. “It could be ashy deposits removed from ovens, or it could be localized burning of garbage. However, in this case, the combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts mixed with arrowheads and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction. Nobody abandons gold jewelry, and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”
Furthermore, the jewelry appears to confirm that Jerusalem was once home to affluent residents before Nebuchadnezzar’s siege – just as scripture claims. Lewis explained, “The biblical books of Kings and Daniel dwell on the wealth of Jerusalem that Nebuchadnezzar took back to Babylon and describe feasting using the gold vessels and copper vessels which came from the city.”
All in all, then, Lewis claimed, “This small artifact shows the potential of how rich Jerusalem really was.” And, significantly, this is the first occasion on which such a treasure has been uncovered at the Western Hill. In addition, while jewelry was previously recovered from the Eastern Hill back in 1979, experts believe that the site would actually have been located outside of the city in Nebuchadnezzar II’s time.
By contrast, archaeologists are sure that what is now known as Mount Zion was indeed part of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. In fact, the excavations also revealed the first evidence of an Iron Age structure on the Western Hill, and this led researchers to conclude that the city was much larger at the time of the siege than had previously been believed.
“We know where the ancient fortification line ran, so we know that we are within the city,” Gibson told the Daily Mail in August 2019. “We know that this is not some dumping area but the south-western neighborhood of the Iron Age city. During the eighth century B.C., the urban area extended from the ‘City of David’ area to the southeast and as far as the Western Hill where we are digging.”
What’s more, the evidence supports the idea that Jerusalem was a thriving metropolis in 586 B.C. rather than an isolated village. And again, this echoes the city that is described in biblical legend – lending further credence to the maximalist camp. According to Lewis, the population of Jerusalem was likely boosted by way of an influx of refugees coming from the north.
But how did such a precious find survive for all those years? Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, discoveries such as this are particularly unusual. “Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down,” Gibson told the Daily Mail.
Researchers even believe that the artifact may once have been part of a larger object. Regardless, Lewis pointed out that the conflict that tore through Jerusalem in the sixth century B.C. is evident by the condition of the piece. “It’s been through trauma itself [and] was smashed somehow,” he said to Haaretz.
Lewis added of the ornate item, “The little silver cluster of grapes is almost detached from its golden case, as if the jewel had been violently torn from somebody. You can almost sense the violence on the artifact itself.” But despite the turbulent history of the region, it’s thought that the relic lay undisturbed in the ruins of the siege for thousands of years.
Yet the artifact isn’t the only Mount Zion find to have helped shed light on Jerusalem’s past. Yes, according to UNCC researchers, the arrowheads found among the layer of ash were also of great historical significance. Forged from iron and bronze, the weapons were of a type commonly linked with the Scythian people. And as we’ll find out, this trail leads straight to the Babylonians who ransacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Scythian arrowheads have reportedly been found at conflict sites dating from between the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. Crucially, though, these weapons are known to have been part of the Babylonians’ arsenal. As a result, then, their discovery is seemingly yet more evidence that the area was once attacked by the kingdom ruled by Nebuchadnezzar II.
And for the archaeologists behind the dig, the discovery of the cache of artifacts is a major result. “It is very exciting to be able to excavate the material signature of any given historical event – and even more so regarding an important historical event such as the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem,” Lewis told CNN in August 2019.
For Gibson, meanwhile, the dig is a chance to get close to the story depicted in the Bible. “I like to think that we are excavating inside one of the ‘Great Man’s houses’ mentioned in the second book of Kings 25:9,” he explained to the Daily Mail. But what will happen next at the site where legend is fast becoming reality?
Well, currently archaeologists are still sifting through the relics at Mount Zion. And while the team have yet to begin excavating the building linked to the discovered ash layer nearby, they hope to return in the summer of 2020 to learn more. With any luck, too, they may be able to flesh out the biblical story even further.
Sadly, though, Nebuchadnezzar’s siege was far from the last tragedy to plague Jerusalem. As well as the destruction brought by the Crusades, the city fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. Today, the Jewish community commemorates these incidents by marking Tisha B’Av – a day of fasting held in July or August.
But while Jerusalem’s history is marred by conflict, the Mount Zion dig has been bringing people together. And UNCC’s Diane Zablotsky has praised students’ involvement in the excavation. “Although they are from different backgrounds and study in different majors,” she said, “they shared a unique experience that left them with a deep appreciation of archaeology, the history of Jerusalem and [a] broadened worldview.”