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10 Books To Read If You're Into Archaeology And Israel

This list was created by the staff of the Temple Mount Sifting Project in honor of our Book Week Campaign. It includes everything you need to know about Israel, Jerusalem, archaeology, and the Temple Mount.

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1. The Quest: Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Via amazon.com

This book is by Leen Ritmeyer. The recommendation was fought over by Gaby Barkay and Frankie Snyder. We will give them both credit.

"No book is better suited to the study, understanding and development of the manmade plateau that is the focus of the world s interest the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Ritmeyer's experience as architect of the Temple Mount Excavations following the Six-Day War, coupled with his exploration of parts of the mount now hardly accessible and his doctoral research into the problems of the Temple Mount make him singularly qualified for the task."

2. The Bible

Via amazon.com

This is the book with the most copies in print in the most languages. Read the book that is the foundation for the religions of most people on earth. Whether or not you believe in divine origins, the Old Testament or TANACH is an important reference for those wishing to know more about Israel or biblical archaeology. Place names, important conflicts, and an understanding of modern religious belief systems all help the modern scholar. Reading the Bible is a great place to start. Recommended by Hillel Richman.

3. Days of Jeremiah

Via lehmanns.co.uk

From famous to obscure, Days of Jeremiah by Yehuda Landy is a great read. (Unfortunately) this book has yet to be translated into English, but if you get the chance, definitely read this book about the Book of Jeremiah. Landy combines archaeology and other historical sources to put the often misunderstood Book of Jeremiah and many other prophets into historical context. Recommended by our director Zachi Dvira.

4. From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium

Via amazon.com

This book is by William Dalrymple. It is the story of the author's journeys through the eastern Mediterranean (including Israel) in search of the Christian communities which are a relic from the days of the Byzantine Empire. He weaves with humor his modern encounters and journey with the historical figures and events. The book draws a good picture of the modern and ancient troubles in the dynamic Middle East. Recommended by Dr. Aaron Greener.

5. Picturesque Palestine

Via en.wikipedia.org

Picturesque Palestine by Sir Charles Wilson et al. is a historic masterpiece.

How many times a week is Picturesque Palestine mentioned in our lab? This book was first published in the early 1880’s and includes gorgeous drawings by Harry Fenn and J.D. Woodward. The drawings of Israel and the Temple Mount have actually helped our researchers identify some of our finds at the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

Here is a cool link to some of the images digitized by the New York Public Library.

6. The City Besieged

Via amazon.com

This book is by Israel Epha’el. Using mostly Akkadian and biblical sources, though also using depictions on reliefs from Assyrian palaces and Egyptian temples (among others), this book explores the military, legal, social and literary aspects of ancient warfare. It studies the multifaceted nature of the siege phenomenon in the Ancient Near East. The analysis incorporates lexical study and military thinking and focuses on the technology of warfare and human behavior in a state of emergency. Recommended by Yiftach Eitan.

7. O Jerusalem

Via amazon.com

O Jerusalem is by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Though fictional, it is a well-researched novel about the struggles, conflicts, and events that were involved in the birth of the modern state of Israel described from various viewpoints. Informative and fun to read, it is a great book for someone looking to know more about Israel and Jerusalem today. Recommended by Jenn Greene

8. One Square Kilometer

Via amazon.com

קילומטר מרובע אחד : One Square Kilometer is by Ami Meitav. This is a great guide to the Old City of Jerusalem. Filled with interesting facts, this book makes a great companion guide for your trip to the Old City. Only in Hebrew, I think we should petition the Tower of David to get a copy published in English! Recommended by Dr. Gaby Barkay.

Here is a link to a PDF of a short version (only 18 pages instead of 280) of the book for those interested.

9. The Gifts of the Jews

Via amazon.com

The Gifts of the Jews is by Thomas Cahill. This book describes “how a tribe of desert nomads changed the way everyone thinks and feels.” It narrates the significance of specific biblical characters and shows how the Jews had a new conception of men and women as individuals with unique destinies. This conception then went on to be the basis of political and social codes still in use today. Tali says that this book really opened her eyes to the importance of the biblical narrative from a social and political philosophical perspective. Recommended by Tali Tsuella.

10. Playing Darts with a Rembrandt

Via amazon.com

Sometimes it is a good idea to get the bigger picture. Archaeology is a wonderful thing, but what happens once the excavation is over? Whose responsibility is the upkeep of the site? What happens to the artifacts collected? Who cares?

Playing Darts with a Rembrandt is by Joseph Sax. At first glance, this might seem a weird choice, but the questions that Sax asks about ownership of heritage are some of the same questions we have faced at the Temple Mount Sifting Project. In his introduction, Sax asks, “why do we feel diminished when something that does not belong to us is destroyed, or taken away?” Why is our project meaningful to so many who have never set foot on the Temple Mount? The book brings up many discussion points that are relevant in the larger world of museums and heritage management, and interesting to those who want to delve into one aspect of the ethics and philosophy of heritage and culture. Yet, this book at its root discusses why we care about heritage and material culture and what we may be able to do about it.

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