Historical Survey - A Timeline
An historical survey of Jerusalemís city walls was conducted during March-May 2007. This was part of a series of surveys aimed at creating an extensive data base for the conservation work on the Old City walls. The survey was performed by the architect, Adi Weiner-Sela.
The survey presents the history of the city walls from antiquity until the modern era. The walls from the Ottoman period, which currently encircle the Old City, are discussed at length. Their cultural value and impact on the idea of "the Old City" and on the historic city, which developed outside the walls in the modern era, have been re-examined.
The survey includes a description of the various routes the walls followed in different periods, the finds that were discovered in archaeological excavations and the sections that exist in the field, as well as references to the walls as they appear in written sources.
There is also a collection of engravings, illustrations, maps, aerial photographs and historic pictures from various archives.
The city wall that we see today in Jerusalem, i.e. the Ottoman wall, is the latest in a series of fortifications that have encircled Jerusalem throughout its history. The different walls were alternately built and destroyed; however, their remains were excavated and exposed in the field, studied and are displayed to the public. Other parts of the ancient city walls are incorporated in the construction of the Ottoman wall and can be seen in certain sections of it. This, the most recent wall, is almost completely preserved except for changes that are limited to very small areas in sections of it. The continuous preservation of the wall has greatly influenced the development of the Old City and its boundaries, defined the area around the wall and defined the interrelationship between the Old City and the New City that grew up outside the walls. Jerusalem is unlike other cities in Israel that were surrounded by walls in the past such as Jaffa, Hebron, Tiberias, Haifa, etc, which after the fortifications were destroyed their impact on the city's urban area and even the mark they left on it have entirely disappeared.
A number of walls were built around the city of Jerusalem. Each wall followed its own route that is mostly or partly known or presumed. Each wall has its own historical narrative that describes the period when it was built, who constructed it and for what purpose. The ancient walls were repaired and additions were added; the routes the walls followed were changed and new walls were constructed that included other regions within their precincts as a result of the city's growth or expansion or omitted regions because the area of the city became smaller. The purpose of the walls was first and foremost to defend the city and its residents. Another important role was maintaining its character and uniqueness, whether it was meant to preserve the Jewish character of the city and close it off to foreigners as was the case at the time of Nehemiah or whether to ensure its character as a Moslem holy city during the Ottoman period. Throughout antiquity the sacredness of Jerusalem and its importance became more meaningful to the different religions, therefore the desire of the rulers to control it increased as did the need to protect it.

Hadashot Arkheologiyot Online Conservation of the Built Heritage in Israel Friends of the IAA The Jerusalem Archaeological Park Survey
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