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This undated aerial photo released by the Israel Antiquities Authority shows the archeological site in Khirbet Qeiyafa, west of Jerusalem.
Associated Press/Photo by SkyView, HOEP
This undated aerial photo released by the Israel Antiquities Authority shows the archeological site in Khirbet Qeiyafa, west of Jerusalem.

Archeologists unearth King David’s palace

History

Israeli archaeologists believe they have discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to King David in a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, 20 miles west of Jerusalem. If confirmed, the largely  destroyed, fortified complex would be the first of King David’s palaces discovered by archeologists.  

“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist. Garfinkel led the 7-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority.

Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by the Judean subjects of King David at the site. His team found no trace of pig remains, a good indication of the site’s origination, since pork was forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Using carbon dating, the archaeologists traced the site’s construction to the 10th century B.C., when King David ruled. Garfinkel said the team also found a storeroom almost 50 feet long, which they believe was a royal site used to collect taxes from the rest of the kingdom.

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Garfinkel believes King David lived permanently in Jerusalem in a yet-undiscovered site, and only visited Khirbet Qeiyafa for short periods. He said the site’s placement on a hill indicates that the ruler sought a secure site on high ground during a violent era of frequent conflicts between city-states.

“The time of David was the first time that a large portion of this area was united by one monarch,” Garfinkel said. “It was not a peaceful era.”

Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms in the area. Archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University agreed that Khirbet Qeiyafa is an “elaborate” and “well-fortified” 10th century B.C. site, but said it could have been built by Philistines, Canaanites, or other peoples. He said there will be no way to verify who built the site until the team finds a monument detailing the accomplishments of the king who built it.

Many critics of Christianity discredit the Bible by saying that King David never existed. If Garfinkel’s claim is true, then the find would be yet another archeological example of the Bible’s legitimacy, following discoveries of biblical cities like Capernaum, Ephesus, Jericho, and Nineveh, and artifacts like the Dead Sea scrolls.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alissa Robertson
Alissa Robertson

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