Archaeologists from the Hebrew University and the Israel Antiquities Authority claim to have discovered a royal residence of the legendary King David.
Yesterday, the archaeologists announced that they have unearthed two ancient large buildings – a palace, and a structure that served as an enormous royal storeroom – at the archaeological site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah dating to the time of King David.
Archaeologists believe that Khirbet Qeiyafa, also known as the Elah fortress, is the biblical city of Shaaraim.
“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Prof Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Dr Sa’ar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of about 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city. The wall enclosing the palace is 30 m long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah.”
The archaeologists said that 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.
“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.”
“Unfortunately, much of this palace was destroyed about 1,400 years later when a fortified farmhouse was built there in the Byzantine period”.
The royal storeroom, a pillared building approximately 15 m long and 6 m wide, was unearthed in the north of Khirbet Qeiyafa.
“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 palace and storerooms are evidence of state sponsored construction and an administrative organization during King David’s reign. The archaeologists said that this is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence.
“To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early 10th century BC as we can do now.”
Khirbet Qeiyafa was probably destroyed in one of the battles that were fought against the Philistines around 980 BC.”
“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,” Prof Garfinkel and Dr Ganor said.