Archaeologists, politicians and religious figures competed for the right to dig in the area of the Western Wall, in places that would later be known as the “Western Wall Plaza,” “Western Wall Tunnels” and “Western Wall excavations.” A struggle would unfold during 1967–1977 between, on one side, the rabbis and religious politicians who received responsibility and exclusivity from the state for the area of the sacred wall, and on the other side, the scientists and archaeologists awarded the right to excavate there by the state. The dispute centred on the question of whether the Western Wall area is only a holy place or also an historic and national monument, and who has the right to operate there. This article, using archival documents and newspaper accounts, focuses on the interaction between sanctity, archaeology and the unique national context of the extensive activity conducted in the Western Wall area during that time. It aims to describe how this space developed during the decade following the Six-Day War, and to discuss the political forces that shaped it during that period.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.