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Eilat Mazar

Eilat Mazar

Overview
Eilat Mazar is a third-generation Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i archaeologist, specializing in Jerusalem and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n archeology. A senior fellow at the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

, she has worked on the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 excavations, as well as excavations at Achzib
Achzib
Achziv is an archaeological site on the northern coast of Israel, 15 kilometers north of Acco. It was first settled in the Middle Canaanite II period by the Phoenicians. In the Bible, it is described as falling within territory assigned to the tribe of Asher. An Arab village, Az-Zeeb, was...

. In addition to heading the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

's Institute of Archeology, she is affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

.

Mazar obtained her Ph.D. from Hebrew University in 1997.
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Encyclopedia
Eilat Mazar is a third-generation Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i archaeologist, specializing in Jerusalem and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n archeology. A senior fellow at the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

, she has worked on the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 excavations, as well as excavations at Achzib
Achzib
Achziv is an archaeological site on the northern coast of Israel, 15 kilometers north of Acco. It was first settled in the Middle Canaanite II period by the Phoenicians. In the Bible, it is described as falling within territory assigned to the tribe of Asher. An Arab village, Az-Zeeb, was...

. In addition to heading the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

's Institute of Archeology, she is affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

.

Mazar obtained her Ph.D. from Hebrew University in 1997. She is the granddaughter of pioneering Israeli archaeologist Benjamin Mazar
Benjamin Mazar
Benjamin Mazar was a pioneering Israeli historian, recognized as the "dean" of biblical archaeologists. He shared the national passion for the archaeology of Israel that also attracts considerable international interest due to the region's biblical links...

. She is a mother of four and resides in Jerusalem.

Discoveries


On August 4, 2005, Mazar announced she had discovered in Jerusalem what may have been the palace of the biblical
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 King David, the second king of a united Kingdom of Israel, who ruled from 1048 to 1007 BCE by the biblical dating (or from around 1005 to 965 BCE by the consensus dating). Now referred to as the Large Stone structure
Large Stone Structure
The Large Stone Structure is the name given to the remains of a large public building in the City of David neighborhood of central Jerusalem, south of the Old City, tentatively dated to 10th to 9th century BCE. The name was given to the structure, as a result of its proximity with another site...

, Mazar's discovery consists of a public building she dated from the 10th century BCE, a copper scroll, pottery from the same period, and a clay bulla
Bulla (seal)
Bulla , is a type of seal impression. It comes in two forms: metal and clay.- Clay bullae :The original bulla was a lump of clay molded around a cord and stamped with a seal...

, or inscribed seal, of Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi, an official mentioned at least twice in the Book of Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

. In July 2008, she also found a second bulla, belonging to Gedaliah Ben Pashchur, who is mentioned together with Jehucal in Jeremiah 38:1. The dig was sponsored by the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

 and financed by an American investment banker. The land is owned by the Ir David Foundation
Ir David Foundation
Ir David Foundation or the Elad Association is an Jerusalem-based, Israeli association which aims to strengthen the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and renew the Jewish community in the City of David, which is part of the village of Silwan...

.

Amihai Mazar
Amihai Mazar
Amihai "Ami" Mazar is an Israeli archaeologist. Born in Haifa, Israel , he is currently Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, holding the Eleazer Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel.Mazar has directed archaeological excavations at a number of...

, a professor of archeology at Hebrew University, and Mazar's cousin, called the find "something of a miracle". He has said that he believes that the building may be the Fortress of Zion that David is said to have captured. Other scholars are skeptical that the foundation walls are from David's palace.

In 2007 Mazar uncovered what appears to be Nehemiah
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

's wall.

In 2010 Mazar announced the discovery of what she believes to be a 10th-century city wall, Jerusalem. According to Mazar, "It's the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel" and "It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction." The 10th century is the period the Bible describes as the reign of King Solomon. . Not all archaeologists believe that there was a strong state at that time, and the archaeologist Aren Maeir
Aren Maeir
Aren Maeir is a professor at Bar Ilan University and director of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project . Born in 1958 in Rochester, New York, USA, he moved to Israel in 1969 and has lived there since...

 is dubious about such claims and about Mazar's dating

Approach


Mazar's Bible-inspired approach has been a source of contention between her and other secular archaeologists.

According to Mazar herself,
I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other, and I try to consider everything.


However, Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel...

 and other archaeologists from Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University is a public university located in Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel. With nearly 30,000 students, TAU is Israel's largest university.-History:...

 have flagged concern that, with reference to her 2006 dating of the Large Stone Structure
Large Stone Structure
The Large Stone Structure is the name given to the remains of a large public building in the City of David neighborhood of central Jerusalem, south of the Old City, tentatively dated to 10th to 9th century BCE. The name was given to the structure, as a result of its proximity with another site...

,

The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar’s literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence.

and regarding her identification of the city wall at the site at that time,

As she admits, the chronological data recovered in her excavations indicate that the sole Iron Age fortification system extending in this area was in use during the 8th−7th centuries BCE. However, according to the biblical sources the Solomonic city-wall must have passed here, hence [she maintains] the fortification system in question must be Solomonic in date.


Mazar was also cautioned by one epigrapher following the 2008 confusion over the inscription on the Shelomit seal
Shelomit seal
The Shelomit seal is an elliptical black stone seal excavated by Eilat Mazar in Jerusalem, January 2008. It was found in a stratified layer estimated at 2,500 years old, just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate.-Design:...

,

In the mad dash to report biblical artifacts to the public or connect discoveries with the most obscure persons or events reported in the Bible, there is sometimes a tendency to compromise the analytical caution that objects of such value so dearly deserve.

See also

  • Biblical archaeology
    Biblical archaeology
    For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

  • History of Israel
    History of Israel
    The State of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 after almost two millennia of Jewish dispersal and persecution around the Mediterranean. From the late 19th century the Zionist movement worked towards the goal of recreating a homeland for the Jewish people...

  • Archaeology of Israel
    Archaeology of Israel
    The archaeology of Israel is the study of the archaeology of Israel, stretching from prehistory through three millennia of documented history. The ancient Land of Israel was a geographical bridge between the political and cultural centers of Mesopotamia and Egypt...

  • Shelomit seal
    Shelomit seal
    The Shelomit seal is an elliptical black stone seal excavated by Eilat Mazar in Jerusalem, January 2008. It was found in a stratified layer estimated at 2,500 years old, just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate.-Design:...

  • Monastery of the Virgins
    Monastery of the Virgins
    The Monastery of the Virgins is a structure uncovered during Benjamin Mazar's excavations south of Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The large number of Christian religious finds from the site have prompted its identification with a monastery described by a pilgrim, Theodosius the archdeacon, in his De...


Publications

ISSN 0098-9444
  • Mazar, Eilat (2004). The Phoenician Family Tomb N.1 at the Northern Cemetery of Achziv (10th-6th Centuries BCE). Sam Turner Expedition. Final Report of the Excavations (Cuadernos de Arquelogia Mediterranea 10), Barcelona.
  • Mazar, Eilat (2003). The Phoenicians in Achziv, The Southern Cemetery. Jerome L. Joss Expedition. Final Report of Excavations 1988-1990 (Cuadernos de Arquelogia Mediterranea 7), Barcelona.
  • Mazar, Eilat. with Mazar, B. (1989). "Excavations in the South of the Temple Mount". The Ophel of Biblical Jerusalem, Jerusalem.