Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Another Myth About Jerusalem Becomes Archaeological Fact

Nadene Goldfoot
The Siege of Jerusalem by Crusaders

There were 9 European led-Crusades against Jerusalem
over almost 200 years who tried to take the Holy
Land from the Muslims who held it. 
 The Romans may have destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE by burning it down along with the 2nd Temple of Solomon, but they didn't hold it for very long.  920 years ago in the year of 1099 (11th century), the Christian Crusaders had their own attack on the city held by Muslims;  a siege. Their Crusade started in 1096.   It turned into a 5 week battle for Jerusalem between Crusader armies and the Fatimid Caliphate that controlled the region in 1099 CE.  The battle came to a head in July 15th of 1099 with Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, France, one of the leaders of the 1st Crusade, attacking the city from the south, while another Christian force built a tower to breach the city walls from the north.  The siege succeeded but the tower was burnt down.  After the northern force conquered the city, Crusaders spent a week slaughtering Muslim and Jewish residents of the city.    Their Crusades were most always bloody, killing those in their way.  For example, one episode was a Crusaders on horseback breaking into a rabbi's home and slaughtering the wife and children of the rabbi with his sword.  

After capturing Jerusalem in 1099, the leaders of the crusade divided the territories among themselves. They created the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Principality of Antioch, County of Tripoli and County of Edessa and established themselves as the rulers of the newly formed crusader states in the Holy Land.
From Crusader to King-Baldwin I of Jerusalem

Raymond of Aguilers wrote a contemporary account of the battle, described a moat built by the Muslims to stop attackers to the south end.  He had promised golden dinars to all Crusaders who would help fill the ditch so he could build a strong siege tower against the wall.  Archaeologists of the past could not find the moat, chalking up the writing to a myth.  
Jerusalem, a walled city still standing around old section

This batch of archaeologists led by Gibson, realized they had uncovered the moat!  He had noticed that dirt layers were not sloping away from the city wall, but towards it, like a ditch that had been filled in.  

The Mount Zion Archaeological Project, an effort of joint international archaeologists led by Professor Shimon Gibson and Professor James Tabor of the U. of North Caroline in Charlotte along with Rafi Lewis of Israel's Ashkelon Academic College.  
Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland surrounded by a Moat
built in 13th Century-sieged by the English in the 17th century

Crusader-King Baldwin III of Jerusalem
Baldwin III was King of Jerusalem from 1143 to 1163. He was the eldest son of Melisende and Fulk of Jerusalem

During his reign Jerusalem became more closely allied with the Byzantine Empire, and the Second Crusade tried and failed to conquer Damascus. Baldwin captured the important Egyptian fortress of Ascalon(today's Ashkelon), but also had to deal with the increasing power of Nur ad-Din in Syria. He died childless and was succeeded by his brother Amalric.
They all wanted a piece of the pie (Jerusalem).  

Baldwin III was born in 1130, during the reign of his maternal grandfather Baldwin II, one of the original crusaders. This made him the third generation to rule Jerusalem. Baldwin's mother Princess Melisende was heiress to her father, Baldwin II King of Jerusalem. Baldwin III's father was Fulk of Anjou, the former Count of Anjou. King Baldwin II died at the age of 60 when his grandson was a year old, which led to a power struggle between Melisende and Fulk. Melisende asserted her right to rule as successor to her father, and Melisende and Fulk reconciled and conceived a second child, Baldwin III's brother Amalric. Baldwin III was 13 years old when his father Fulk died in a hunting accident in 1143, and Baldwin III was crowned as co-ruler alongside his mother, echoing Melisende's own crowning alongside her father as his heir. Yet Baldwin showed little interest in the intricacies of governance.[

The were excavating a site that was part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park where they had found a 1st century Jewish mansion and a rare gold coin stamped with the face of Nero, the Roman Emperor.  Finding the moat is another example of history coming true with scientific proof.  Myths can hold facts.  These archaeologists worked on this site for over 5 years, mapping and dating the layers and artifacts they have turned up.  They have uncovered a 13 foot-deep, 56 foot-wide moat.  A black layer was on top of the moat and believe to be evidence of the 1153 Civil War between Crusader King Baldwin III of Jerusalem and his mother, Queen Melisende.  Many scholars who believed the moat story to be a fable will now have to eat crow.  

Resource:  The Jewish Press, Friday, July  19, 2019.