Bible Archaeology

Beneath Jerusalem, an Underground City takes Shape

Underneath the crowded alleys and holy sites of old Jerusalem, hundreds of people are snaking at any given moment through tunnels, vaulted medieval chambers and Roman sewers in a rapidly expanding subterranean city invisible from the streets above.

At street level, the walled Old City is an energetic and fractious enclave with a physical landscape that is predominantly Islamic and a population that is mainly Arab.

Underground Jerusalem is different: Here the noise recedes, the fierce Middle Eastern sun disappears, and light comes from fluorescent bulbs. There is a smell of earth and mildew, and the geography recalls a Jewish city that existed 2,000 years ago.

Archaeological digs under the disputed Old City are a matter of immense sensitivity. For Israel, the tunnels are proof of the depth of Jewish roots here, and this has made the tunnels one of Jerusalem’s main tourist draws: The number of visitors, mostly Jews and Christians, has risen dramatically in recent years to more than a million visitors in 2010.

But many Palestinians, who reject Israel’s sovereignty in the city, see them as a threat to their own claims to Jerusalem. And some critics say they put an exaggerated focus on Jewish history.

A new underground link is opening within two months, and when it does, there will be more than a mile (two kilometers) of pathways beneath the city. Officials say at least one other major project is in the works. Soon, anyone so inclined will be able to spend much of their time in Jerusalem without seeing the sky…

There is more here. Nice photos too.


Russia to Restrict Abortion

The Creative Minority Report reports:

Russia has a baby problem. There aren’t enough babies – not close to enough. In 2009, there were 74 abortions for every 100 births in Russia, according to their own health ministry. You think that’s bad? Those statistics don’t even include pregnancies terminated at private clinics, or morning-after pills.

Russia’s fertility rate is only 1.4 children per woman – far below the 2.1 needed to maintain existing population numbers.

The Blaze reports:

Russia‘s Orthodox Church teamed with Conservative parliamentarians Monday to push legislation that would radically restrict abortions in a nation struggling to cope with one of the world’s lowest birthrates.

The legislation would ban free abortions at government-run clinics and prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill without a prescription, said Yelena Mizulina, who heads a parliamentary committee on families, women and children.

She added that abortion for a married woman would also require the permission of her spouse, while teenage girls would need their parents’ consent. If the legislation is passed, a week’s waiting period would also be introduced so women could consider their decision to terminate their pregnancy, Mizulina said.

The Soviet Union legalized abortion decades before most other countries so one could wonder if Russia is simply further down the line of suffering the consequences of legalized abortion.

Did everyone really think that killing the unborn had no consequences?

Sad that the reason countries like Russia are rethinking abortion is for financial reasons but I’m happy to see countries even considering the unborn at all. But it’s still not anywhere close to good news because the reconsidering of abortion for them has nothing to do with valuing individual life. It’s a cost thing. It’s still putting a pricetag on life. It’s just a slightly higher pricetag