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Jerusalem:: An Archaeological Biography Hardcover – October 3, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shanks, president of the Biblical Archaeology Sociey and editor of Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls (Random, 1993), has produced a sumptuous commemorative volume to mark the "3,000th anniversary of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." He lavishly uses well-chosen, high-quality color photos, drawings, and plans. Two pages of simplified time lines put the major events of the book in clear chronological perspective. The 14 chapters range from "Jerusalem before the Israelites" and "How David Conquered Jerusalem" to "Herodian Jerusalem" and "Modern and Crusader Jerusalem." Shanks writes in an informal style and keeps the archaeology relatively simple. Although he incorporates the latest research, he does not introduce anything new. His work is an informative coffee-table book for the educated public; students in the field will find it an interesting, albeit expensive, picture book and summary of the highlights of Jerusalem's archaeology.
Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Although no one knows the exact date of Jerusalem's founding, 1996 has been designated as its 3,000th anniversary. Shanks, the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, offers a great anniversary present in the form of this impressive book. It begins with the remains of a house from the Bronze Age and takes readers on an archaeological tour that ends with the Ottoman period. And what a tour it is! Discover Jesus' tomb, Solomon's temple, and the palaces of Herod, just to name a few stops along the way. Shanks is able to pinpoint important finds and wrap them with history while, at the same time, introducing readers to the scientific techniques that make these finds possible. Matching the excellent text are numerous photographs and illustrations that capture both the mystery of this holiest of cities and its surprising everydayness. Jerusalem is a place where people have lived, dreamed, and died for a very long time, and this book offers fitting celebration of that fact. Ilene Cooper

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (October 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679445269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679445265
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Hershel Shanks, editor of the magazine 'Biblical Archaeology Review', put together this wonderful volume on the archaeology of Jerusalem in honour of the 3000th anniversary of the establishment of the city by King David (a date of conjecture, to be sure, and with some variability even within the conjecture). In the introduction, Shanks states:
'Through the archaeology of Jerusalem, one can learn about almost everything even remotely connected to the ancient Near East: from Bible and ancient history, art and architecture, burial practices, languages and scripts to geography, water supply systems, chronology, theology, pottery typology, archaeological methodology, warfare and daily life.'
Jerusalem is at or near the centre of three major faiths that have had profound and lasting impact not only on the city or region, but upon the entire world. Jerusalem has long been at an important crossroads in history--military expansion of major empires have had to go through the city; trade routes east and west have always been through or nearby the city -- indeed, Jerusalem has been conquered 23 times in its history. From the sack of the city Salem by King David (who had to conquer it three times before being able to hold it from the Jebusites) to the Moslem reconquest from the Crusaders, archaeological evidence is rich in diverse time periods.
This makes Jerusalem rather like the wall made of successive layers of wallpaper with subtle but distinct patterns--it is hard, when scrapping away layers, to discern accurately which layer belongs to which period.
The first chapter begins with Jerusalem before the Israelites. Despite the year 2000 celebrating the 3000th anniversary of the city, it has in fact a much longer history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Jones on May 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archeology Review (BAR) Magazine, offers an unrivaled look into the ancient City of Jerusalem. His concise descriptions and beautiful pictures captivated this reader and helped me to finally understand the relationship between biblical narrative and archeological evidence in the capital of Israel. Famous sites ranging from Hezekiah's Tunnel, to the Western Wall, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the Dome of the Rock are wonderfully elucidated within their historical context. If you are interested in the Bible, the history of Jerusalem, or Archeology in general, this book is a MUST!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Concerned Mom on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great overview of a complex city from it's beginnings. Nicely illustrated. Wonderful and not overdone timeline of events and architecture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Rosenthal on November 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Hershel Shanks uses archaeological evidence to explain the history of Jerusalem as a city. The book traces the entire history of the city from when Jerusalem was established 3,000 years ago to when the book was written in 1995.

Shanks uses a variety of sources in the book. Most of Shanks’ sources are secondary-source books, however, some periodicals and scholarly journals are used. Shanks also uses primary sources throughout the book, but does not cite the sources. The sources are used in many places of the book, backing up the author’s evidence.

The book is arranged chronologically into fourteen different chapters. In the chapters, Shanks explains:
How the Israelites conquered the city from the Jebusites (three times)
How the Assyrians devastated the city after the Israelite confederation broke apart
How the Babylonians destroyed the city
How the Persians defeated the Babylonians and ruled the city
How Alexander the Great Hellenized Jerusalem
How the Maccabees established an independent Jewish state once again (ruled by the Hasmonean dynasty)
How King Herod removed the Hasmoneans from power
How the Romans took direct control of the city after King Herod’s death
How the Jews revolted against Roman rule, resulting in Roman retaliation and the destruction of Jerusalem… twice
How the city became Christian under the Byzantines
How the Muslims took control of the city from the Christians
How the Crusaders removed power from the Muslims
How the Muslims finally ousted the Crusaders
Shanks does not provide a specific argument or bias, only providing enough evidence for the reader to reach their own conclusion.

The book has many strengths. One such strength is the usage of diagrams.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jerusalem: an archaeological biography is an absolutely fascinating book, especially if you want to visit the old city of Jerusalem. It is written by scholars in the field and contains many drawings and photographs as well.

I read this book right before my trip to Jerusalem in 2011. The book helped me understand what I was seeing. Jerusalem is thousands of years old, with existing archaeology from many eras visible to tourists. In order to make sense of all the layers, which are visible in a three-dimensional puzzle, it helps to know the chronological archaeology. Then when you see a piece of it, you can appreciate what you are seeing and are able to visualize the missing pieces more easily.

If you never plan to go to Jerusalem yourself, this book gives a greater understanding of the geography of the area, the development of the city over time, and different cultures that ruled the city, and the current archaeology taking place today.
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