Silwan: Collapses near the archaeological excavations

The snowstorm that hit Jerusalem last week caused collapses and severe damage  in areas near and above some of the archaeological  excavations taking place in the village of Silwan. Collapses of the ground-level  have become routine in Silwan, recurring annually with the first rainstorm. Most of these occur  near the southern part of the tunnel, connecting the Shiloah Pool with the Givati parking lot (see map, near No. 12). This section has an earth filling several meters deep. It seems that, the ground-works in the tunnel affected the ground stability in the region. A similar occurrence was evidenced past years.

More substantial collapse occurred in an area adjacent to the excavation commenced in 2013 (see Emek Shaveh’s  new publication:Remaking the City, Chap. 5 and in the attached map between no. 7 and 6). The storm crushed a significant part of the side steps and fill adjacent to it. (Attached photo shows detached iron staircase.)

Shortly after the yearly collapses, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Parks Authorities, Elad and the Antiquities Authority( IAA) hasten to patch up repair the damage. Undoubtedly, this will be the case this time too.

It is our opinion that the land collapse is the result of several  causes: 1. The village of Silwan is constructed on landfill and not on stable bedrock. In the case of a storm, the ground break through and undermines the stability of the structures above it. 2. The fact that year by year the collapses occur near the archeological excavations of the tunnels, points at the excavations as one of the major factors in this severe damage.

The  responsibility  at this site is held by several organizations: 1. The Nature and Parks Authorities  – for the national park. 2. IAA – as conducting the excavations . 3. Elad organization – as the sponsors of the excavations. 4. The Municipality of Jerusalem.

We urgently call for a comprehensive re-examination of the stability of the ground in the area of Shiloah and for taking the necessary precautions to prevent further collapse.  It seems apparent that failure in taking these steps will worsen the situation.  Luckily, so far there have been no casualties.

The excavation of tunnels in the heart of the city entails, first and foremost, the exploitation of an ostensibly scientific-archeological means for the sake of literally undermining the lives of those who live above them. Since a large part of the conclusions of the archeological excavations conducted in recent years are based on 19th- and 20th-century excavations, their importance for scholarship is rather limited. The concealment of the actual scope of the works, the lack of scientific-archaeological rationale, and the emphasis on the emotional importance of the finds for the Jewish people, all attest to the political use that is being made of archaeology. The system of underground tunnels creates a parallel, ancient and unsullied city that pretends to represent the real Jerusalem, a Jerusalem preceding and disconnected from any conflict. This underground city renders the existing multicultural and conflicted city redundant while making control of the Historic Basin seem like a necessity in the eyes of the Israeli public, even at the cost of thwarting any political agreement.


Silwan rain damage   Silwan rain damage2

Silwan rain damage3

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