Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of King David’s palace and royal storehouse from the 10th century BCE. The site is located at Khirbet Qeiyafa, southwest of Jerusalem, and has been extensively researched by Professor Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. These are the largest known buildings to have existed in the Kingdom of Judah during this time period.
Photo by: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In an interview with the Times of Israel, they commented about their findings. “The palace is located in the center of the site and controls all of the houses lower than it in the city. 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.” When describing the royal storeroom, they say, “It was in this building the kingdom stored taxes it received in the form of agricultural produce collected from the residents of the different villages in the Judean Shephelah… Hundreds of large store jars were found at the site whose handles were stamped with an official seal as was customary in the Kingdom of Judah for centuries.”
The significance of this new discovery prompted the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Natural Parks Authority to reject a proposal for construction of a neighborhood near the site and are attempting to reserve the area as a national park.
Garfinkel and Ganor are not the first to claim discovery of King David’s palace. Another Israeli archaeologist, Eilat Mazar believes that she has identified the palace outside the northern section of Jerusalem’s walls. This area was excavated and studied by British archaeologist Dame Kathleen Kenyon in the 1960s. She believed the ruins found here belonged to a casemate wall built by King Solomon in the early 10th century BCE. Kenyon had never considered the possibility that David’s palace may have been built outside the existing walls of the city. Instead, she surmised that his palace must have been rather small since he would have had to utilize what little space would have existed in the already crowded city.
Mazar on the other hand, theorized that this excavation site north of the city walls was indeed David’s palace. She points to the biblical reference of 2 Samuel 5:17, which speaks of David descending to the stronghold when the Philistines were preparing for attack. Since every other side of the city was bordered by valleys, Mazar argues that the only elevated area of land that would allow for a decent would be located to the north of the walls. She also states that building a palace outside the city walls to the North would have been logical since 2 Samuel suggests that David was planning a northern expansion of the city. Therefore, David’s vision for the expansion of the city would have eventually placed the palace within the city walls.
Mazar’s theory is controversial due to what many of her peers consider to be overly literal reading of the 2 Samuel scripture.