Digging for Answers: The Archaeology of Jerusalem and the Politics of Archaeology


Katharina Galor, an archaeology professor at the at the Program in Judaic Studies at Brown University who has done a lot of excavation in Israel, is the author of The Archaeology of Jerusalem: From the Origins to the Ottomans (2013). She takes us through the history of Jerusalem from its Canaanite beginnings to the capital of Israel today.

We discuss the foundations and geography of this fortified city in the hills, the importance of water, and the lives of ordinary citizens. We talk about the First and Second Temples and the improvements made by Herod “the Great” whom Christians recall as a notorious infanticide yet who is curiously prominent today—partly because many of his improvements are still visible, partly because they point to aspects of history that both Jews and Christians (but not Muslims) wish to emphasize—which brings us to the politics of digging up the past in the Holy Land. Finally, we turn to the problematic German miniseries Unorthodox that was so popular on Netflix recently and its portrayal of traditional Hasidic Jews in New York and progressive Germans in Berlin.

  • Katy Galor’s faculty webpage and Joukowsky Institute page at Brown University
  • Katy Galor and co-author Sa'ed Atshan discuss their book, The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, and Palestinians (2020), at the Watson Institute, Brown University.
  • Katy Galor’s books at Amazon.com.
  • Katy Galor’s article: “King Herod in Jerusalem: The Politics of Cultural Heritage,” Jerusalem Quarterly, Issue 62 (Spring 2015). Also here.
  • Trailer for Unorthodox, Netflix miniseries, 2020.
  • Article by Leah Aharoni: “Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox’ Degrades Hasidic Jews into Caricatures,” Jewish Journal, April 27, 2020.
  • Article by Julie Joanes: “Everything ‘Unorthodox’ gets wrong about being Orthodox,” Forward, April 30, 2020.

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Krzysztof Odyniec

Krzysztof Odyniec is a historian of Medieval and Early Modern Europe; he is also the host of the 'Almost Good Catholics' podcast.

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