The Medieval Swiss Knight Who Left His Name on the Walls of Jerusalem

November 8, 2022 | Nicky Blackburn
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According to a tradition that dates back to the 9th century CE—and may be Christian or Muslim in origin, although it is shared by Jews as well—King David’s tomb is located on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Although most archaeologists reject the accuracy of this tradition, they have found the site a fruitful one for excavation, as evidenced by the recent discovery of an inscription connected to a famed 15th-century Swiss warrior. Nicky Blackburn writes:

Adrian von Bubenberg . . . came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1466, and on his visit either he or his son—also called Adrian—left a charcoal inscription of his name and family emblem on a wall in Jerusalem. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered the inscription while carrying out an archaeological survey on Mount Zion to document ancient graffiti by Muslim and Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem.

So far, they have revealed more than 40 inscriptions in different languages, as well as the 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” said Michael Chernin and Shai Halevi of the IAA, who headed the project. “The building served as a monastery and a hostel for the Western pilgrims, who left their mark on the walls.”

Bubenberg, who is considered a national hero in Switzerland, was born to a noble family in 1424, and—after long service as the mayor of Bern—gained fame in 1476 when he led the Swiss Confederate army to victory against Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, in the battle of Murten.

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