The years was 1867. The Palestinian Exploration Fund was established for the purpose of promoting research in the area of archaeology, history, topography, and culture of the Bible. Enter the scene: Charles Warren.
Warren was a 27 year old Lieutenant (later Captain) of the British Royal Engineering Corps who was sent to Jerusalem. With the aid of a personal friend, two corporals, a photographer, a surveyor and a 8 mule-loads of equipment, he set out to investigate the key sites in Jerusalem. This included what is known today as the Temple Mount as well as the Holy Sepulcher Church, the City of David, and its water system. While Warren’s exploration of Jerusalem extended only 3 years, his findings were enlightening.
With the help of a personal friend, British officials, and local people, Warren explored the area around what is known today as the Temple Mount. Not permitted to excavate on the Temple Mount itself, Warren dug a series of horizontal and vertical shafts around the outside of the Temple’s retaining walls. The vertical shaft he made by removing debris and dirt along the western retaining wall extended about 120 feet down to the bedrock. With a candle in his mouth, we was lowered by ropes.
One nineteenth century British historian wrote, “It was Warren who stripped the rubbish from the rocks and showed the glorious temple standing within its walls 1,000 feet long and 200 feet high, of mighty masonry. It was he who laid open the valleys now covered up and hidden; he who opened the secret passages, the ancient aqueducts, the bridge connecting the temple and the town.” His exploration of the water shaft (named today after him) and Hezekiah’s Tunnel is another remarkable story, but will have to wait for another posting.
Warren’s contribution to the exploration of Jerusalem cannot be minimized in any way. Along with other earlier explorers (Edward Robinson and Charles Wilson, in the 1840s), today’s archaeologists and historians owe a lot to the Mole.