JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities have announced the discovery of remains from King David’s palace near modern-day Jerusalem.
In a statement released on Thursday by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), officials explain how remnants of two buildings were discovered at a site located between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean Sea. The findings came after several years of careful research by IAA and Hebrew University experts.
Today, the site at which the historic buildings were discovered is called Khirbet Qeiyafa; however, it is referenced in the Bible as the city of “Shaaraim” or “Shaarayim.” Joshua 15:36 says Shaaraim was allotted to the tribe of Judah, and 1st Samuel 17:52 recounts how Israelite soldiers pursued the Philistine army to Shaaraim immediately after David killed Goliath.
“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” explained Professor Yossi Garfinkel and archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor in the IAA press release. “The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of c. 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city. The wall enclosing the palace is c. 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed to it, through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah.”
According to 1st Samuel 17, the Valley of Elah is where David and Goliath had their epic showdown.
As stated in the release, archaeologists believe one of the buildings was a massive royal storeroom used to hold collected taxes, while the second was most likely the palace of King David himself. Garfinkel and Ganor described several of the artifacts they have discovered, and also explained why Khirbet Qeiyafa would have been an excellent location for King David’s palace.
“Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found—evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt,” they wrote in the release. “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.”
However, perhaps the most significant aspect of these discoveries is that they provide evidence of a large, powerful government during the time of David. Since structural remains from this historic era are extremely rare, many doubted the existence of the kingdoms described in the Old Testament.
“This is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points,” Garfinkel and Ganor stated. “To date, no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century BCE as we can do now. … 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.”
Due to the sheer importance of these findings, the IAA is already working with other government agencies to protect the Khirbet Qeiyafa site, and some officials are hoping to declare the area a national park.
“This plan stems from the belief that the site will quickly become a place that will attract large numbers of visitors who will be greatly interested in it,” the IAA statement reads, “and from it one will be able to learn about the culture of the country at the time of King David.”
Photo: Israeli Antiquities Authority