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Medieval Swiss war hero’s name found within King David’s tomb

Statue of Adrian von Bubenberg in the city of Bern

Rostislav Ageev | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 10/23/22

The inscription was most likely made when Adrian von Bubenberg made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1466.

A team of experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were surprised to find the name of a famed 15th-century Swiss knight inscribed on the walls of King David’s tomb. The graffiti, which was one of dozens of such inscriptions discovered, bore the name of Adrian von Bubenberg, alongside his family’s emblem.

According to Israel Today, IAA has been working to document ancient examples of graffiti at the “King David Tomb Complex,” on Mount Zion. The project is utilizing the same technology that the IAA developed to analyze the Judean Desert Scrolls. The tech uses multispectral photography, which reveals details that are usually invisible to the naked eye. 

The team has already identified more than 40 inscriptions in various languages, as well as several emblems of families of known medieval European knights. Among these was an extremely faint charcoal inscription of the name Adrian von Bubenberg

Jerusalem post reports that the inscriptions were made during a period when Franciscans were custodians of the site. The building adjacent to the tomb was used as a hostel for Western pilgrims who came through the region, and many of them left their mark to commemorate their journey. 

Bubenberg, who lived from 1424 to 1479, was a Bernese knight and military commander. To this day he is remembered as a hero of the Burgundian wars of the 15th century, with a statue standing in the city of Bern. It is known that Bubenberg made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1466, at which time he was dubbed a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. It was at this time that he must have left his mark on the tomb. 

Eli Escusido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said of the discovery: 

“The research carried out in Jerusalem embraces religions and cultures world-wide. 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. All these remains contribute to the fascinating picture, a taste of which we present in today’s conference.”

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