Tour guide seminars: Silwan-City of David

One of the best and most challenging tours which Green Olive offers is our weekly Silwan-City of David tour. You can read more about the tour at this page. In the past month, Green Olive senior Israeli guide Yahav Zohar led two successful and challenging guide seminars around the archeological site and the largely Palestinian neighbourhood it is in.

The archeological site is fast becoming one of Jerusalem's most popular tourist attractions, and every Jewish schoolchild in the country, every Israeli army intake and everyone on a Birthright trip will now visit at least once. Despite this, or indeed partially because of this, the site is highly controversial in some circles. During our seminar we explored the various reasons for this.

One relates to the archeology itself. Dubious techniques are being used here; such as widespread salvage digs, and politically motivated horizontal excavation. Academically disingenuous claims have been made by site archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, including the very notion that the site contains the Biblical Palace of David, something which has never been proven and which most in the field doubt. The majority of the funding for this archeological work is also ideologically sourced.

The other serious issue is the sensitive nature of the neighbourhood itself. Although a small number of Yemenite Jews did settle here in the 1880s, from then on this has almost exclusively been a Palestinian, Muslim neighbourhood. Since the 1967 Six Day War, Israel has full control of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem and this neighbourhood) and when combined with the settler movement the archeology threatens this character. Much of the land the excavations take place on (and under) was acquired in suspicious, immoral or illegal circumstances. This practice carries on today and expulsions and house demolitions are ongoing. The lives of those living in Silwan are being irreparably altered by this work.

The exit of the famous water tunnel is in the courtyard of the Silwan mosque

At Green Olive, are are proud to help professionalise the tourism field and are running regular, free seminars like this for tour guides. Are you a guide yourself? Would you like to join a similar session in the future? Do you have a suggestion for where we should work next? Please, let us know in the comments or by sending an email here.

Unprofessional archeological practices
"I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other, and I try to consider everything." - Dr. Eilat Mazar


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