BAR 35:06, Nov/Dec 2009
First Person: Barred from the City of David
I have been writing about the City of David for more than 35 years. The major excavations of Yigal Shiloh between 1978 and 1985 were undertaken as a result of a book I wrote. In that sense, I created the site. So it is no small thing to me that General Shuka Dorfman, the current director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), has instructed Ronny Reich, who codirects the current excavations near the Pool of Siloam with Eli Shukron, to bar me from the site.a Shuka, as everyone calls him, is mad at me. It has something to do with the famous James Ossuary (inscribed “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”), which was first published in BAR by Sorbonne scholar André Lemaire in 2002.b I cannot be more specific about why Shuka is so angry because he won’t tell me. He won’t speak to me. What is clear is that it has nothing to do with the City of David or its excavation. At a meeting of Israel’s Archaeological Council, council members suggested he talk to me, but Shuka rejected their advice; he remains obdurate. After all, he’s a general; he is accustomed to commanding, not taking suggestions.