King David’s Palace Discovered – Minimalists Convert!

The International Herald Tribune has posted a story on the recent excavations and discoveries in Jerusalem: “King David’s fabled palace: Is this it?” (Also available at the New York Times). The find purportedly includes “the partial foundations of a sizable public building, constructed in the Phoenician style, dating from the 10th to 9th centuries B.C., the time of the united kingdom of David and Solomon.” (Picture of Mazur by Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times). Here is an excerpt:

Even Israeli archaeologists are not so sure that MS. Mazar has found the palace – the house that Hiram, king of Tyre, built for the victorious king, at least as Samuel 2:5 describes it. It may also be the Fortress of Zion that David conquered from the Jebusites, who ruled Jerusalem before him, or some other structure about which the Bible is silent.

Either way, they are impressed by its likely importance. “This is a very significant discovery, given that Jerusalem as the capital of the united kingdom is very much unknown,” said Gabriel Barkay, an archaeologist from Bar-Ilan University. “This is one of the first greetings we have from the Jerusalem of David and Solomon, a period which has played a kind of hide-and-seek with archaeologists for the last century.”

Based on the Bible and a century of archaeology in this spot, MS. Mazar, 48, speculated that a famous stepped-stone structure excavated previously was part of the fortress David conquered, and that his palace would have been built just outside the original walls of the cramped city, on the way to what his son, Solomon, built as the Temple Mount.

“When the Philistines came to fight, the Bible said that David went down from his house to the fortress,” she said, her eyes bright. “I wondered, down from where? Presumably from where he lived, his palace.”

“So I said, maybe there’s something here,” she added, referring to East Jerusalem.

While it is obviously too soon to know the significance of the find, it will be fun to see the “minimalists” do everything they can to deny a connection with David and the “maximalists” muster the evidence to “prove” that David existed just as the Bible says! (Gee, do I seem a bit skeptical of the nature and tone of the minimalist/maximalist debate?)

UPDATE: Jim West over at Biblical Theology blog has posted on this story as well. The battle for Middle Earth Jerusalem is about to begin…

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