July 21, 2013

Israeli archaeologists say they have uncovered the two largest known buildings to have existed in the tenth century BCE in Jerusalem, and attribute one of the structures to being King David’s palace.

The two royal public buildings were uncovered this past year at Khirbet Qeiyafa – a fortified city about 19 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem, which dates back to the time of King David.

“The ruins are the best example to date of the uncovered fortress city of King David,” said professors Yossi Garfinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who led the excavations. “This is indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.”

The researchers say they found hundreds of large store jars at the site whose handles were stamped with an official seal as was customary in the Kingdom of Judah for centuries.

Finds from the site. (Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

They also say that the palace and storerooms are evidence of state sponsored construction and an administrative organization during King David’s reign.

“This is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points”, the archaeologists said. “To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century BCE as we can do now. Khirbet Qeiyafa was probably destroyed in one of the battles that were fought against the Philistines circa 980 BCE. The palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah.”

The exposure of the biblical city at Khirbet Qeiyafa and the importance of the finds discovered there have led the Israel Antiquities Authority to act together with the Nature and Parks Authority and the planning agencies to cancel intended construction of a new neighborhood nearby and to promote declaring the area around the site a national park. The two organizations say the site could serve as a tourism destination hot spot.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director