Biblical Archaeology Review 23:3, May/June 1997

Jerusalem’s Essene Gateway

Where the community lived in Jesus’ time

By Bargil Pixner

Mount Zion, the highest spot in ancient Jerusalem, is where I live.a You can’t miss our abbey south of the walled Old City. The squarish, fortress-looking building with the conical roof and four slender corner towers is our church—the Church of the Dormition of Mary. Next to it—the building with the prominent bell tower—is the Dormition Abbey, the traditional location of the dormition (the passing away) of Mary, mother of Jesus. Just to the north is Zion Gate, leading into the Old City.

To the east is a small minaret that overlooks the Cenacle building, where, according to tradition, Jesus ate his last Passover with his disciples in the “Upper Room” (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). On the ground floor of this building is the traditional tomb of David, a Crusader creation and surely not the site of the actual tomb.b On the southern slope of Mount Zion (southwest of the Temple Mount) is the famous Protestant Cemetery, where the great 19th- and 20th-century archaeologists Sir William Flinders Petrie, Conrad Schick and James Leslie Starkey are buried.

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