Prof. Aren M. Maeir, Archaeologist, Bar-Ilan University
“Based on my recent visit (June 2015) and my prior knowledge of the history of research of the compound of the Greek Orthodox Church in Abu Tor, I have formulated the following impression. The compound is full of interesting archaeological finds, from the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods for sure, but perhaps from earlier periods (Prehistoric? Iron Age? Hellenistic?) as well. The significance of the archaeological remains and the Christian traditions relating to it (inter alia, “Hill of Evil Counsel”; possible house of Caiaphas the High Priest) already make this an area which should not be developed without close archaeological and historical research – BEFORE any actual construction work is authorized.
Due to the importance of this compound from an archaeological, historical and religious point of view, and add to that that it is one of the last places where one can get a “clean view” of the old city from the hill of Abu Tor, I highly recommend that this area be preserved as an open area, in which the archaeological, historical and religious sites will be developed and tourists and pilgrims can visit.
Finally, may I add that in light of the dearth of public parks in the Abu Tor neighborhood, it could also serve as public park if developed accordingly.
I urge the Jerusalem Municipality to retain the unique character of this compound.”
Professor Aren M. Maeir
Archaeologist, Bar-Ilan University