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CULTURE & HERITAGE - Culture & History

Archeological dig in Cologne
OFER ADERET, HAARETZ, translation Gilberte Jacaret

1-Archeological dig in Cologne unearths ancient Jewish history - and exposes layers of prejudice
The citizens of Cologne, known as a city of churches, were happy to have an excavation in their town - until it started turning up evidence of a first century Jewish quarter.
Haaretz, By Ofer Aderet| 06.04.13
Latent Anti-Semitism Has Caused Pushed Back on Project

haaretz
Haaretz

 “We are fighting over history here,” said Dr. Sven Schuette, as we toured an archaeological dig in this city in western Germany in late March. “They claim the Jews fell from the sky, that they are merely guests here, who came and left. But what can you do, the findings we discovered in the field prove otherwise,” he added excitedly, as he pointed out the ancient synagogue and ritual bath that were uncovered in the heart of the city in recent years.

Schuette, 60, specializes in the archaeology of the Middle Ages for the city. From his office in the oldest section of Cologne, he oversees the excavation that has had both local residents and elected officials in an uproar for several years. At the center of the controversy is opposition both to use of public funds for the project and to the extended digging that it has entailed in the heart of the city.

Schuette believes that those opposed to the excavations are motivated also by latent anti-Semitism, of the sort he says that’s common in Germany. “They think it would be more appropriate to build a nice plaza here, rather than a Jewish museum,” as is planned, he adds. Some people have tried to sabotage the dig and have left suspicious items − such as a suitcase that was feared to have had explosives inside − at the entrance to the excavation; others send him threatening letters. “They are not neo-Nazis, just foolish people who do not understand history,” Schuette says.

2- Cologne Archeological Dig Revives Ancient Jewish Heritage
An archaeological dig in western Germany has unearthed myriad traces of daily life in one of Europe's oldest and largest Jewish communities.
By Arutz Sheva staff
First Publish: 3/31/2013,
After long being sidelined for Roman excavations, an archaeological dig in western Germany has unearthed myriad traces of daily life in one of Europe's oldest and largest Jewish communities.
From ceramic dishes and tools to toys, animal bones and jewelry, some 250,000 artifacts have so far shed light on various periods in 2,000 years of the city of Cologne's history, the AFP news agency reported.
But plans to display the findings, discovered since 2007 by head archaeologist Sven Schuette's team at the 32,800 square-foot (10,000 square-meters) city centre dig, in a new museum have proved divisive.
Just over 260 miles (400 kilometers) away, Berlin already hosts a large Jewish museum, and critics argue that Cologne cannot afford a new cultural project when its financiers are already in the red.
"For a very long time, archaeologists quite simply ignored the Jewish past of Cologne," Schuette told AFP.

"Anything that wasn't of Roman origin wasn't excavated, since the Middle Ages were of little matter and Jews weren't supposed to have played any role," he lamented.
From the 10th to 12th centuries, Cologne, today Germany's fourth-largest city, was one of Europe's biggest cities, even ahead of Paris and London, with about 50,000 inhabitants.
Its prosperous Jewish community numbered nearly 1,000 at its height.

On Hebrew-inscribed fragments of slate, aspects of daily life from the Middle Ages have intriguingly come to light via school children's teachings, rules and regulations, a bawdy knight's tale and even a bakery's customer list, AFP reported.
The history of the city's Jewish quarter spans 1,000 years, from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, and far from being closed-off, it was open and adjoined the Roman governor's imposing palace and later the city hall.

"Excavations show that the Jews in Cologne for a very long time were on good terms with the Christians, that their cohabitation saw long phases of peace and harmony," Schuette said.
He pointed to the synagogue's gothic-style and richly decorated altar having been constructed by craftsmen, possibly French, who had been working on the nearby cathedral building site.
But two events finally sounded the death knell for the Jewish quarter – a crusader massacre in 1096, followed by its eventual annihilation in 1349 when the Christians made the Jews the scapegoat for a black plague epidemic.

Archaeologists hope to see their treasures on display in the new museum by 2017.
"It won't be a so-called ghetto museum limited to presenting religious artifacts but a museum tracing this quarter's daily life, its integration in to the Christian city, with the positive and negative aspects," Schuette told the news agency.

But the project has its detractors and opponents, he said, adding that an empty suitcase had been placed within the site recently, sparking a phony bomb alert.
"And elsewhere someone engraved a swastika," he added.
Meanwhile the opposition conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) on the local council have attacked the plan over its cost and condemned as "madness" spending more than 50 million euro ($64 million) when the city is already deeply in debt.

"Cologne cannot allow itself to build a new museum," leading local CDU politician Volker Meertz said, also questioning how it would stand out from the Jewish museum in the German capital.
Some 2,800 people have signed a broad-based petition against the museum.
"The protest is populist. It's not baiting the far-right but it could be a platform for the far-right and political die-hards," said Abraham Lehrer, a leading member of Cologne's Jewish community.
"Social expenditure is being cut independently of the museum's construction. If it isn't built, nothing will change," he told the weekly Juedische Allgemeine Zeitung.