King David's Palace Found Near Jerusalem, Israeli Archaeologists Say

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 22, 2013 1:17 PM EDT

israel antiques
One of King David's palaces has been excavated near Jerusalem, say archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority. (Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority)

A palace of King David's has been excavated, says a group of Israeli archaeologists. But some think that while the palace is indeed a very old place, there isn't enough evidence to show that it was a palace of King David's.

On Thursday, the Israeli Antiques Authority announced that Khirbet Qeiyafa, an archeological site about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, is the location of one of King David's palaces. Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is believed to be part of the Biblical city of Sha'arayim, has been under excavation for 7 years by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israeli Antiques Authority. During these 7 years, the archaeologists have found evidence of a fortified city from about 1000 B.C., when the House of David ruled.  

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The archeologists used carbon dating to determine the age of the site. Among the structures they uncoverd at the Khirbet Qeiyafa site were a 50-foot-long storeroom, believed to have been used to collect taxes, and a 100-foot-long protective wall. The palace itself was believed to have been 10,000 square feet.

As to whether the ruins belonged to King David's palace, the archeologist are calling their findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa "the best example to date of the uncovered fortress city of King David."

"There is no question that the ruler of the city sat here, and when King David came to visit the hills he slept here," said Yosef Garfinkel, one of the Hebrew University archeologists.

"This is the only site in which organic material was found--including olive seeds--that can be carbon-14 dated" to the era of the era of King David, the Israeli Antiques Authority told the Times of Israel.

The city of Sha'arayim, where King David's palace is believed to have been found, means "two gates" in Hebrew. Archeologists at the Khirbet Qeiyafa site have found two gates there.

In their official statement, the Israeli Antiques Authority points out that the location would also make sense for King David's palace, due to its strategic location.

"From here one has an excellent vantage looking out into the distance, from as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east. This is an ideal location from which to send messages by means of fire signals."

Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, is skeptical of the King David palace discovery. While he says that the "elaborate" and "well-fortified" site is probably from the 10th century B.C., if could have been built by virtually anybody. Short of finding a monument or some other object at the site which exalts the king for whom it was built, there's no way to tell if it was King David's.

In 2005, similar claims over the discovery of King David's palace in East Jerusalem were met with skepticism. 

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