Archaeologists in Israel have claimed they have found the ruins of a palace that belonged to the biblical King David at a site west of Jerusalem, but some experts say there is lack of evidence to prove the claim.
A team of archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel's Antiquities Authority got together for a seven-year dig at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site west of Jerusalem. And at the completion of the dig, they say they have discovered a large fortified complex that was the first palace of King David in what was once a Judean city of Sha'arayim, according to The Associated Press.
The Old Testament book 1 Samuel 17:52 records that after David killed Goliath, the Philistines ran away and were slain on the "road to Sha'arayim.
"Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David," say the two leaders of the team, Yossi Garfinkel from Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Antiquities Authority.
They say there is "unequivocal evidence" in the form of cultic objects that were typically used by King David's subjects, the Judeans. Besides, they found no trace of pig remains – as pork is forbidden under Jewish laws.
They say they have discovered another structure at the site which was a storeroom.
"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," they say. "The wall enclosing the palace is about 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. 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."
"This is the only site in which organic material was found – including olive seeds – that can be carbon-14 dated," The Times of Israel quotes Yoli Schwartz, a spokeswoman of the Antiquities Authority, as saying. "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."
While other experts agree the finding is significant, they say it's possible it belonged to other kingdoms of the area.
Prof. Aren Meir of Bar Ilan University told Haaretz that the archaeologists should not over-rely on the Bible, as question-marks hang over the existence of King David's monarchy along with Solomon.
However, Garfinkel and Ganor maintain, "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."