Death of “Queen of Jerusalem Archaeology”

ARCHAEOLOGIST DR. Eilat Mazar in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2010. (photo credit: ABIR SULTAN/FLASH90)

Eilat Mazar (pronounced Elaat MAY-zur) died in May of this year at age 64. Described in various reports as “kind and gracious,” “an indomitable woman of strength and determination,” Mazar made groundbreaking discoveries, including David’s palace, part of Nehemiah’s wall, one of Solomon’s Jerusalem gates, and seals belonging to biblical figures. Her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University focused on ancient Phoenicia. She had a daughter and three sons by two marriages. Her second husband, archaeologist Yair Shoham, died in 1997 at age 44. Eilat was the granddaughter of Benjamin Mazar, the first archaeologist appointed after the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Born in Russia, Benjamin studied archaeology in Germany before immigrating to British-controlled “Palestine” in 1929. He was one of the founders of modern Israel. After Israel won control of the Temple Mount following the Six Day War in 1973, Benjamin excavated the southern end of the Mount and made wonderful discoveries that have thrilled Bible believers ever since. He found the ancient street along the western wall from the time of Christ and the giant stones thrown down by Titus’ army in 70 AD, including the trumpeting stone which marked the place where the priest blew the trumpet to announce the sabbaths and the feasts. He found the southern steps and the remnants of the southern gates to the temple and many other things. Fascinated with archaeology at an early age, Eilat worked with her grandfather from the time she was eleven years old (1968). Beginning in 2005, she led the excavation of what she believed to be the ruins of David’s palace and found many evidences to support this conclusion. Today those ruins are an integral part of the City of David Visitors Center, which preserves the archaeological strata of that important part of Jerusalem. Eilat Mazar wasn’t a Bible believer in a Christian sense or even an orthodox Jewish sense. She was “non-religious” and did not hold to the infallible inspiration of Scripture. But unlike most Jewish archaeologists today, she believed that the Bible describes real history. She was taught by her grandfather to “pore over the biblical text again and again for it contains within it descriptions of genuine historical reality concealed within the biblical text are grains of detailed historical truth” (“Fearless pioneering biblical archaeologist,” The Times of Israel, May 26, 2021). Eilat was blasted by skeptical archaeologists such as Israel Finkelstein for putting too much credence on the Bible, but she was unbending in the face of criticism. She said, “To ignore the written sources, especially the Bible–I don’t believe any serious scholar anywhere would do this. It doesn’t make any sense” (“Eilat Mazar,” Christianity Today, May 26, 2021), and, “Today it’s become fashionable to say there was no David, no Solomon, no Temple, no prophets. But suddenly the facts on the ground are speaking, and those outspoken voices are stammering” (“The Best of Archaeology in the Holy Land in 2005,”, Jan-Feb. 2006). I was very saddened to hear of Eilat Mazar’s death. Oh, that she and her grandfather would have understood that the Old Testament was given by divine inspiration to prepare the way for, and point the way to, Jesus the Christ, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world! For a description of Eilat Mazar’s discoveries, including a pictorial study, see Bible Times & Ancient Kingdoms, “David and His Palace,”

(Friday Church News Notes, December 3, 2021,,, 866-295-4143)