The Golden City celebrates 3,000 years of history

by Victoria Wicken

News Reporter

Jerusalem archeologist Gadi Wexler visited the University of Houston Tuesday as part of an event celebrating the 3,000 years of Jerusalem's history since King David ruled the country.

UH students and faculty gathered in the Honors College to attend Wexler's lecture and slide show presentation in which he compared the city of 2,000 years ago to the Jerusalem of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Wexler said Jerusalem is a city struggling to retain its history in a modern age. He presented slides depicting a gleaming glass and steel skyscraper under construction in the middle of urban Jerusalem.

"(The building) will not appeal much to Jerusalem," Wexler said.

He said the building caused controversy in the city because a 1931 city regulation maintains that all construction projects should attempt to build with Jerusalem stone -- a special type of limestone. Wexler said whenever a project is designed that uses other building materials, a public controversy ensues.

As a result of the Middle East peace process, Palestinians now have full control over archeological areas located in the West Bank, Wexler said. He said the Palestinians have been generally cooperative in sharing archeological information.

"I hope that they will keep good relationships with our archeologists and (allow the archeologists to) carry on digging, or submit the information in case they go themselves," Wexler said. "So far, we are in most of the cases quite pleased."

Israeli consul Ruth Schatz said Israel sends people to speak in the United States each year, but this year the focus is on the city of Jerusalem.

Schatz said celebrations for Jerusalem 3000 will continue all year, all over the world.

Kevin Britt, a sophomore political science major, was among 19 people from the Honors College who traveled to Israel for two weeks in May.

"One of the more impressive things was when (Wexler) was talking about the wall in Jerusalem, because we had seen some of the walls," Britt said. "What he was saying made sense. When the sun sets on the buildings on that particular type of stone, it's really awe-inspiring. It made the buildings appear to glow. It was like they were golden. You hear Jerusalem being called the `Golden City' -- that's why."

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