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Showing posts from 2024

Under Jerusalem, by Andrew Lawler : Book Review

Modernised transport and increased access to Jerusalem in the mid-19 th century gave rise to what this excellent history (‘Under Jerusalem : the Buried History of the World’s Most Contested City’ by Andrew Lawler. Doubleday, 2023) depicts as an imperial ‘race’ for the secrets in stone and artifacts either submerged or in plain sight of the Holy City. France, then Britain, Germany and Russia are amongst the nations that expend money, material, and personnel in their different bids to lay claim to the truth about the religious past. The truth itself proves elusive over many decades, as excavators offer up contradictory theories about the exact site of the Prophet’s Dream, the Passion narratives, Solomon’s and then Herod’s Temple, and other major facts of shared interest. Results are mixed. General Gordon, for example, he of Khartoum fame, engages in his own military-style survey, with definitively expressed ideas that a French scholar of the time described as “wonderfully weird.” The ca