A spellbinding history of the hidden world below the Holy City - a saga of biblical treasures, intrepid explorers, and political upheaval
“A sweeping tale of archaeological exploits and their cultural and political consequences told with a historian’s penchant for detail and a journalist’s flair for narration.” (Washington Post)
In 1863, a French senator arrived in Jerusalem hoping to unearth relics dating to biblical times. Digging deep underground, he discovered an ancient grave that, he claimed, belonged to an Old Testament queen. News of his find ricocheted around the world, evoking awe and envy alike, and inspiring others to explore Jerusalem’s storied past.
In the century and a half since the Frenchman broke ground, Jerusalem has drawn a global cast of fortune seekers and missionaries, archaeologists and zealots, all of them eager to extract the biblical past from beneath the city’s streets and shrines. Their efforts have had profound effects, not only on our understanding of Jerusalem’s history, but on its hotly disputed present. The quest to retrieve ancient Jewish heritage has sparked bloody riots and thwarted international peace agreements. It has served as a cudgel, a way to stake a claim to the most contested city on the planet. Today, the earth below Jerusalem remains a battleground in the struggle to control the city above.
Under Jerusalem takes listeners into the tombs, tunnels, and trenches of the Holy City. It brings to life the indelible characters who have investigated this subterranean landscape. With clarity and verve, acclaimed journalist Andrew Lawler reveals how their pursuit has not only defined the conflict over modern Jerusalem, but could provide a map for two peoples and three faiths to peacefully coexist.
"What lies beneath? Lawler knows. Evoking the sights, sounds, and smells of ancient and modern Jerusalem, he introduces the reader to a myriad of archaeologists and other colorful characters, all concerned with unearthing the ancient remains of the city, frequently while grappling with thorny modern political, ideological, and theological issues. A must read for anyone interested in either the history or archaeology of Jerusalem." (Eric H. Cline, best-selling author of 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed)