Dedicated to the memory of Professor Yigal Shiloh. The love and devotion he brought to the discovery of ancient Jerusalem will continue to inspire us for many years to come.
For ten years—from 1968 to 1977—the area adjacent to the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount was intensively excavated.1 Astounding discoveries were made, but hardly a trace of anything from the First Temple period was uncovered.
The excavators were doubly disappointed because this was ancient Jerusalem’s Ophel (OH-fell), the location of the royal quarter, an important administrative center in First Temple times. They could console themselves in the knowledge that if they were empty-handed—of First Temple finds—it wasn’t for lack of trying. The excavation was massive. Led by Hebrew University’s Benjamin Mazar (my grandfather), a team of experts, aided by hundreds of volunteers from Israel and abroad, labored indefatigably year-round, not just, as is customary, in the summer months.