Israeli Archaeologists Discover Graffiti of Medieval Swiss Knight in King David’s Tomb
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 15th century medieval inscription bearing the name and family emblem of a Swiss knight on a wall in the King David Tomb Complex on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion.
Researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority said they were “very surprised” to find the emblem and name — Adrian von Bubenberg, one of Switzerland’s most admired military heroes — scribbled in charcoal on a wall in Jerusalem. Von Bubenberg is believed to have come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1466, where he was knighted.
Israeli archaeologists said, however, that it was not possible to determine whether the graffiti inscription was by the Swiss national hero or his son, as both had visited Jerusalem.
“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,” said Michael Chernin and Shai Halevi of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The building served as a monastery and a hostel for the western pilgrims, who left their mark on the walls.”
The inscription was discovered during a project by researchers at the Israel Antiquities Authority who were carrying out an archaeological survey on Mount Zion to document graffiti and ancient inscriptions left on the walls by Christian and Moslem pilgrims. In addition to the von Bubenberg name and family emblem, the archaeologists found more than 40 hidden inscriptions in different languages, as well as the family emblems of medieval knights.
To decipher the faded graffiti, the archaeologists used advanced methods developed originally for the research of the Dead Sea scrolls, ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts discovered in 1946-7 at the Qumran Caves in the Judean Desert.
“These technologies, using multispectral photography, different wave-lengths invisible to the human eye, bring to light inscriptions that have faded and have been erased over the years,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
Von Bubenberg was born to a noble family in 1424 and served as mayor of the Swiss city Bern. He became a Swiss national hero in 1476, when he led the Swiss army in the Battle of Murten, and defeated the army of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who threatened the independence of Switzerland.
“The research carried out in Jerusalem embraces religions and cultures world-wide,” said Israel Antiquities Authority Director Eli Escusido. “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.”