Talk:Tower of David

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Song of Songs[edit]

I should mention that the Tower of David is mentioned in a book written in the 10th century b.c. called 'Song of Songs' or 'Song of Solomon'. It appears that it may be impossible for it to be first built in the first or second century a.d. if it were mentioned in a book written 1000 years earlier. Professorstein (talk) 10:08, 24 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I realize my reply is somewhat late, but nonetheless:
What makes you think that this is the same tower the "Song of Songs" is talking about? And what makes you think the Song of Songs was written in the 10th century B.C.? -- (talk) 22:44, 13 March 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article says that the Byzantines named the after the tower in the Song of Songs, which is much more plausible. Zerotalk 00:45, 14 March 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The name[edit]

This article has two contradictory explanations, differing by around 1000 years, for how the name "Tower of David" came about. Zerotalk 13:20, 14 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reverted image[edit]

I reverted this edit because 1) The daytime picture is stunning, and 2) The nighttime picture is of low pixel quality. Yoninah (talk) 19:17, 4 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"dubious – discuss"[edit]

"As evidenced by the archaeological discovery of the Broad Wall, King Hezekiah was the first to specifically fortify this area."

If this is "evidenced", surely we may expect some kind of evidence that will support this statement. Please add reliable sources, or delete this claim. -- (talk) 22:57, 13 March 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There are two proper sources listed at the end of the paragraph both which explain that the Broad walls founding and structure illustrate that fortifications began in the area known as the "Western Hill" in the King Hezekiah time period. It further explains that the remains of the wall today and the Citadel fortifications are more removed due to the walls destruction, changes in the cities structure, and further building. From the archaeological findings of what fortifications of the wall still exist, the Broad wall when originally built would have been within the vicinity of the Citadel fortifications as they stand today. (talk) 21:49, 22 August 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

No real info until Mamluk period, nothing at all on archaeology. Very, very poor.[edit]

Other than the Herodian towers, everything else is a mess all the way until the Mamluks. No plausible historical outline for the apparition and evolution of a citadel here (nothing useful about any structures during the Kingdom of Judah, Hasmoneans, Herod other than the towers -3 unconnected residential towers are not a citadel-, Romans after 70 CE, Byzantines, in part later too). Who built one first? What does "destruction" mean? (We have 3 mentioned in a row, w/o a word about any re-construction in between). What happened to the citadel when Ayyubid sultan Al-Mu'azzam 'Isa demolished the city walls in 1219? Nothing makes sense.

Once ARCHAEOLOGY is brought in (was it Nachman Avigad and/or Hillel Geva? Any new digs since?), we start making sense, but not before that. 4th- and 5th-hand info is useless, just the blabla of bored old tour guides. Arminden (talk) 12:22, 14 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No findings of, not even theoretical connection to, Hezekiah's wall[edit]

Removed what looks like somebody's "own research", based on poor source and ignoring/misunderstanding even the site plans from the quoted source.

"As evidenced by the archaeological discovery of the Broad Wall, King Hezekiah was the first to fortify this area."
-Why not: The "Broad Wall" section excavated in the Jewish Qtr is far to the W of the Citadel. It is no proof whatsoever that Hez. fortified "this area". The W Hill is quite vast, the Citadel just a section of it.

Quoted source: "Broad Wall - Jerusalem 101; see maps."
-Not valid: Miserably poor source ("A Bible Teaching Ministry of Galyn Wiemers" - Galyn WHO?), which nevertheless uses good area plans from academic sources, both of which show that Hezekiah's "broad wall" stopped very far to the west of the Mamluk citadel & Jaffa Gate. So "see maps" and convince yourselves that they prove the Citadel area was NOT included by Hezekiah.

-"The city's fortifications demonstrate that by the late eighth century the city had expanded to include the hill to the west of the Temple Mount...... etc., etc.
-Irrelevant: see above: Hezekiah's wall never reached so far west. No connection to our topic whatsoever.
Please, pay more attention when you edit, especially when it borders on "own research", i.e.: you cannot find a good source stating PRECISELY what you wish to prove. Arminden (talk) 17:19, 14 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Name in Arabic[edit]

It seems the Arabic name in this article is a literal translation to the English name. But that's not what's it called in Arabic. In Arabic it's called (برج القلعة), the Castle's Tower. --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 16:18, 12 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Crazyketchupguy: hi! I thought that the indicated Arabic name looks a bit too much like a translation of the Western one (not just English though!), but on the other hand I didn't dig any deeper because that is quite plausible (see below). Anyway, I'm not sure the current version can be left as it is now (issues listed by decreasing importance):
  • The citadel contains the traditional site of the "Mihrab Dawud", the tradition is from the Early Muslim period, so very old. One of the mosques inside is actually called by that name. Muslim Arabs didn't pick up the association with David from the Christians, or at least they thoroughly adopted it into the Ahadith. See Qur'an, 38:21-22 "... they ascended over the wall into the upper chamber (mihrab), when they went in unto David and he was afraid of them..." The explicit identification of the Mihrab Dawud with a place next to Jerusalem's western gate is first mentioned by Ibn al-Murajja al-Maqdisi (fl. 1038-48) and has been dated to the mid-8th c., and there are more such traditions.[1]
  • "Castle's Tower" sounds illogical. Maybe the whole citadel is "Qal'a", and only the Herodian tower (stump) is the "Burj al-Qal'a", and then only that tower is the "Citadel Tower" in English? The article makes the distinction citadel (entire compound) - tower (Herodian), so the Arabic terms also have to be accurate.
  • Qal'a is now the common transliteration. One "a".
  • "Castle Tower", without apostrophe-s, sounds better to me, if that is indeed the name we need.

What do you think? And definitely, please bring a good source, no need to try too hard by yourself, I'm sure there are lots of sources out there - Arab archaeologists, academic books in Arabic, etc. Thank you, Arminden (talk) 23:14, 12 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mahmoud Hawari, The Citadel of Jerusalem: A Case Study in the Cultural Appropriation of Archaeology in Palestine, Present Pasts, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2010, 89-95, doi:10.5334/pp.25 says "During the early Islamic period the site was converted into an Islamic shrine named Mihrab Dawud (David’s Prayer Niche)." Also mentioned in Gonen, Contested Holiness. There is also an article I don't have: Busse, H. (1994). ‘The Tower of David/Mihrab Dawud: Remarks on the History of a Sanctuary in Jerusalem in Christian and Islamic Times’, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 17: 142-65. Zerotalk 04:26, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hello @Arminden: & Zero, To make things clearer, I'll break it down as follows:

  1. The mention of David's praying champer (Mehrab Dawoud) in the quran is honestly irrelevant to the discussion because all it indicates that "David" had a praying champer (mehrab). Nothing there mentions a location or any sort of information related to what we are discussing. Not to mention that religious texts are not always the most historically reliable sources, to begin with (but that's a completely different discussion).
  2. The citadel, as we know it today, was built during the Mamluk's al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun, which is when the mosque known as Mosque of the Citadel was built (it has a Wikipedia page in Arabic) and restorations have been made during the Ottoman's Suleiman the Magnificent, which is when the "mehrab" (this 1, 2) was built (source). Not sure if it's the same mehrab Zero mentioned in his sources.
  3. The citadel seems to be known as "Qalet al-Quds" (Castle of Jerusalem in Arabic) or "Qalet Bab al-Khalil" (Bab al-Khalil being the Arabic name for Jaffa Gate) or simply and more common "al-Qala'a".
  4. Regardless of when and why the mehrab was actually called "mehrab dawoud", the tower itself is called "Burj al-Qala'a" in Arabic (1, 2). It's even called so in the Arabic version of this article!

I tried to use Google Trends for both terms (برج القلعة القدس, برج داود القدس), but it seems the "search doesn't have enough data". But a quick Google search in Arabic will clearly indicate that all Arab sources use the name "Burj al-Qala'a" except for the Israeli ones (in Arabic). It is clear that Israel is trying to push this name (Burj Dawud/Dauod) for obvious reasons.

The Arabic name should reflect what the structure is actually called in Arabic, by Arabs. Not what other non-Arabs think it should be called. The name "Tower of David" used in western sources to describe what Palestinians call in Arabic Burj al-Qala'a.

I think it could have a better literal Arabic-to-English translation, if that's what you mean by illogical. I can suggest Citadel Tower (or Jerusalem Citadel Tower or Bab al-Kalil Citadel Tower.. except that would be too long) instead of the more awkwardly phrased "Castle's Tower"? --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 07:06, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Crazyketchupguy: I know nothing about the modern Arabic name of this place, so everything I am writing concerns historical names. I did not invoke the Quran as evidence and your dismissal of multiple academic sources by invoking the Quran yourself is not convincing. What people did is what they did, not what logic says they should have done. Also, even though a tower is not a mihrab, naming a tower after a mihrab is not at all strange. Another very eminent source that traces the historical identification of Mihrab Dawud and Tower of David is Amikam Elad, Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship, which discusses this with sources over many pages starting on page 131. I can bring more sources easily, but I want to read the highly-cited article of Busse first. Zerotalk 08:35, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Zero0000: If you bothered to read the comment before yours, you would understand why I mentioned the quran. My reply was a reply to both @Arminden comment and yours. The discussion is clearly what the tower is called in Arabic. It is not called "Burj Dawud" but "Burj al-Qalaa". I provided sources in Arabic that support that argument. "Burj Dawud" is not a name used in Arabic. Saying it's so is misleading. "What people did is what they did, not what logic says they should have done." What? What are you even talking about? --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 09:27, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Crazyketchupguy: hi. With all due respect: I notice that you have a problem with understanding what Zero writes and what I write. You're upset about Israeli-Jewish cultural appropriation. That's all fine, but not my topic. If Arabic speakers from the, say, 7th or 8th century adopted a Byzantine name, or came to a similar one based on Muslim concepts, a name that today is used by Israel with a political purpose, this doesn't make the fact undone. It has to be clarified how the name evolved, and Mahmoud Hawari' article mentioned by Zero and the book chapter brought in by me are doing just that. I don't think you want to accuse Hawari of Birzeit U. of a Zionist agenda. So take it easy, read without emotions, and extract the facts. You'll be satisfied with the result and so will be Wikipedia's users - and editors. And yes, on English Wiki the exact translation of the Arabic names does matter, and it should ideally be quoted from good sources (I know, it's not always possible, but in this case it is). A paragraph on Names (I prefer this heading on the more posh and often inaccurate Etymology, as we do have a whole series of consecutive names and historical elements, not just a philological discussion) can include all this, while the lead can be kept short, no problem.

Important: there are TWO topics in this article. One is the actual tower (Herodian + Mamluk), and the other is the Citadel, which is now and has been for a while called "Tower of David", with additional focus on the 17th c. Ottoman minaret that mistakenly got the same name in the 19th c. Unless the article's topic and the definitions are very sharply stated, the article tends to slide into a useless mess. There can be a paragraph on current politics, but that shouldn't permeate all of the article. I confident that we can agree on this. Have a great day, Arminden (talk) 14:26, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Arminden: Hi there, I'm being very professional and calm, but it seems you both are getting more emotional and unprofessional with every reply. Yup, be being upset or not is not your topic, yet you seem more interested in discussing my emotions than the facts and arguments I'm presenting. In nearly all Arabic sources today, the same usage of "Tower of David" in English is "Burj al-Qala'a" in Arabic. Burj al-Qala'a is the current Arabic name, regardless of what it was called during the Ayyubid times. Feel free to add a paragraph about its name during the Ayyubid era. If someone is searching for tourism or to research news sources, they won't find it under "Burj Dawud", but "Burj al-Qala'a". Even from the Hawari case study you're using: "For nearly a millennium the Citadel has been known by its Arabic name, al-Qal’a (the Citadel), whether in contemporary literary sources or by the local Palestinian population of Jerusalem." It's that simple. Or was that too emotional for you? --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 15:31, 13 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I haven't fully understood if "Burj al-Qal'a" refers to the NE tower (the massive, Herodian tower with Mamluk upper part), or to the entire citadel. I have added the first version, hoping it's right. Historically, the citadel was called simply "qal'a", and the Herodian tower "Mihrab Dawud". Ellenblum is quoting a long, long row of Arab geographers and historians who are leaving no doubt about the names used from the Early Muslim to the Ayyubid periods. If the current name is different, this need to be clarified with a good source and we put it in. Arminden (talk) 01:07, 14 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Arminden: So let's agree on two things:

  1. Mihrab Dawud is a name that was used during the Crusade/Ayyubid eras. Even the names Ellenblum quoted Ibn Al-Murajja (11th-century CE), Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233), Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani (1125–1201) and so on seem to be all from that time. As Hawari said, "For nearly a millennium the Citadel has been known by its Arabic name, al-Qal’a". It's also named Qal'et al-Quds and Qal'et Bab el-Khalil (Jaffa Gate). Using the Arabic name "Qala'a" or Qal'et al-Quds" are both in use in Arabic.
  2. The name "Burj Dawud" that was mentioned in an earlier version of this article is not in use in any modern Arab sources except the one affiliated with Israel (like the museum site in Arabic). The Arabic publications use one of the three names mentioned earlier, the most common being "Qal'et al-Quds" (1, 2, 3).

I've seen "Burj al-Qala'a" used interchangeably with "al-Qala'a", but this needs a whole different research on its own. So we can at least agree that the most common Arabic name for the citadel is "al-Qala'a" or "Qal'et al-Quds".--Crazyketchupguy (talk) 10:31, 14 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ketchup, stop gloating, I can get personal as well; you still didn't understand what I wrote, none of it. I'm personally never using "Tower of David", always "Citadel", so you're barking up the wrong tree. But it's about accuracy. The "Mihrab Dawud" tradition is much older than the surviving sources. Hawari only dates it vaguely to the Early Muslim period, which ends in 1099. Ellenblum is much more precise, indicating Istakhri (d. 957) and Al-Mas'udi (writing in 956/7). The tradition "can be dated at least back to the middle of the eighth century." Ibn al-'Arabi calls it Mihrab Dawud a few years after 1099, and so are other Muslim historians who write about the Crusader conquest. So it's been the standard Arabic name for at least 750-1100, more than a third of a millennium. Based on an interpretation of two verses from the Koran no less, 38:21-22.
Qal'a: Hawari's "For nearly a millennium" is kept vague, maybe because he kept his research for a book he hoped to publish at Oxford UP, which he's been announcing as a done deal for 10 years now but has never materialised; or maybe he didn't manage to get deeper than that. Ellenblum quotes a letter by al-Malik an-Nasir Dawud to the caliph copied by Ibn Shaddad al-Halabi, and also Maqrizi and al-'Ayni, who all start using "qal'a" after the 1230s, when the Crusaders build the first proper citadel at the site, with the Herodian "Tower of David" at the NE corner of the ward. So no millennium, but close to 8 centuries. Not a competition, except for: accuracy.
Burj Dawud seems to be used by Arabs, see for instance Ellenblum's quote of Ibn Wasil about al-Mu'azzam's destruction of Jerusalem in 1219, or an-Nasir Dawud's letter to Caliph Mustansir (via Ibn Shaddad al-Halabi): the qal'a is connected to the "Tower of David, may he rest in peace." Unless Ellenblum mistakenly & repeatedly quoted "tower" instead of "mihrab", which seems unlikely, the use of "Burj Dawud" seems proven, but going back to the Arabic text of Ibn Wasil and Ibn Shaddad would clarify things.
I have found nothing yet on "Burj al-Qal'a". Given how the Herodian+Mamluk tower and the citadel (and even the minaret) have been named interchangeably for centuries, I'd like to understand, with some sources if possible, if the "citadel tower" refers to the tower, the citadel, or both, in the usual Levantine easy-going way, which is just fine (we're probably among the only ones to care), but it still does need clarification. Arminden (talk) 14:56, 14 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No indication of "Burj Dawud" used in Arabic. If you're only source is Ellenblum translating a word (mistakenly or otherwise) then that's a weak argument considering it's been used as "Mihrab" by everyone else from those eras. Yes, it is very likely that he translated "Mihrab Dawud" to "Tower of David" especially that (from searching his book) all his Arabic references to it is "Mihrab Dawud", so it seems odd that the only time that term "tower/burj" is used instead of Mihrab is in in a translation, not the actual Arabic name. If you have an Arabic source that actually uses the word "Burj Dawud" to describe the citadel, as it is used now by Israel, then by all means I'm all ears.
As I said earlier, and there's really no need to keep going back and forth on that on this one, "Mihrab Dawud" is an old name that is no longer in use for the citadel or its towers. That can be added (which it is already) in a separate section to add historical context. I provided sources in Arabic that describe the citadel as Qal'et al-Quds or Qala'a. Since this article is discussing the citadel as a whole, then that's the Arabic name for it. If someone wants to use that name to search for that site in Arabic (tourism, political news, discuss it with the Arab locals, etc), that's the name they will be using in Arabic. This is why it is important to be accurate with the Arabic name of the citadel.
Here's an Arabic source using "Burj al-Qala'a", and ironically the Arabic version of Times of Israel used it in a 2017 article to describe the tower where the museum is at.
In short; it's called "al-Qala'a" or "Qal'et al-Quds" in Arabic, "Mihrab Dawud" is a medieval name that was used to describe different structures at different points in medieval times, and "Burj Dawud" is not a thing in Arabic. Hope we cleared that up.
It seems now not only you're patronizing me, but also Mr. Hawari. I'm sorry but I would appreciate it if you would stop this attitude and just stick to facts and arguments. --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 15:56, 14 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Ellenblum, Ronnie (2016). Frankish Castles, Muslim Castles, and the Medieval Citadel of Jerusalem. In Laudem Hierosolymitani: Studies in Crusades and Medieval Culture in Honour of Benjamin Z. Kedar. Routledge. ISBN 9781351928243. Retrieved 13 October 2020. The testimonies of the tenth-century Muslim geographers identify the Tower itself with the prayer place of King David (Mihrab Dawud), that was mentioned in the Qur'an....(9) Note 9: Qur'an, xxxviii. 21-22: "....they ascended over the wall into the upper chamber (mihrab), when they went in unto David...."

Ottoman name[edit]

Section ("Tower of David": Ottoman minaret), the citation used does not say anything about the claims made in that section: "it became popularly used for the 17th-century Ottoman minaret prominently visible on the wall of the citadel; ever since people use the name 'Tower of David' either for the whole citadel or just for the minaret." Also, when talking about being used, please specify by whom; Arab locals, the Ottoman authorities, Western travelers? --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 07:20, 15 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Since the citation is completely unrelated to what the section is talking about, I removed the entire section. --Crazyketchupguy (talk) 04:51, 17 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]