ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Inscription bearing name of medieval hero Swiss knight found in King David’s Tomb

A charcoal etching with heraldic emblem of Adrian von Bubenberg’s family shows link between medieval Switzerland and Jerusalem

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

The inscription and family emblem of Adrian von Bubenberg in the Holy Complex on Mount Zion. (Shai Halevy, Israel Antiquities Authority)
The inscription and family emblem of Adrian von Bubenberg in the Holy Complex on Mount Zion. (Shai Halevy, Israel Antiquities Authority)

A medieval inscription bearing the name of a Swiss knight was discovered in King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Thursday.

Knight Adrian von Bubenberg arrived in what is now known as Israel as part of a pilgrimage in 1466.

He is considered one of Switzerland’s most admired heroes.

The discovery by archaeologists working on Mount Zion was made as part of a project carried out by the Antiquities Authority at the King David’s Tomb Complex that focuses on documenting old “graffiti” and ancient inscriptions left on the walls by Christian and Muslim pilgrims.

The project has so far revealed over 40 inscriptions in various languages and family emblems of medieval knights.

“In the Mamluk period, between 1332–1551, the building complex adjacent to the traditional Tomb of King David was owned by the Monks of the Franciscan Catholic Order. The building served as a monastery and a hostel for the western pilgrims, who left their mark on the walls,” said project leaders Michael Chernin and Shai Halevi of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Cenacle, or Upper Room, on Mount Zion just outside the Old City, where Christians believe Jesus held the Last Supper, is revered by Jews as the site of King David’s tomb. (AFP/Constance Decorde)

These new discoveries were made possible thanks to new technological capabilities developed by the Antiquities Authority as part of research conducted on the Judean Desert scrolls.

The method uses multispectral photography to bring to light inscriptions that have faded over the years and have become invisible to the human eye.

Israel Antiquities Authority researchers Shai Halevi and Michael Cherchin document the pilgrims’ inscriptions on the walls of the complex. (Joshua Faudem)

Among the revealed inscriptions was a charcoal inscription bearing the name and the heraldic emblem of von Bubenberg’s family. A Swiss military man and politician from the 15th century, von Bubenberg played a central role in defending Switzerland’s independence in the face of external threats during the Middle Ages.

Today, he is considered a Swiss national hero, with many streets named after him and a statue of him adorning a central square in the city of Bern.

Statue of Adrian von Bubenberg, Bern (Mike Lehmann / Wikipedia)

The Antiquities Authority said his son Adrian (II) von Bubenberg was also known to have visited Jerusalem and that it is impossible to know for certain who was behind the inscription.

But it still provides a direct link between medieval Switzerland and Jerusalem, the authority said.

“The research carried out in Jerusalem embraces religions and cultures worldwide. Believers, pilgrims and visitors seeking to make contact with sanctified Jerusalem left traces that the Israel Antiquities Authority researchers reveal and record on a daily basis,” said Eli Escusido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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