Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Palace of David Discovered?

This story is about a week old, but I didn't have time to comment on it before.  Here is the complete text from the Jerusalem Post.

First Temple wall found in City of David

A wall from the First Temple was recently uncovered in Jerusalem's City of David, strengthening the claim that it is the site of the palace of King David, an Israeli archeologist said Thursday.

The new find, made by Dr. Eilat Mazar, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center's Institute for the Archeology of the Jewish People, comes less than two years after she said she had discovered the palace's location at the site just outside the walls of the Old City.

The monumental 10th century BCE building found by Mazar in 2005 following a six month dig has ignited debate among archaeologists about whether it is indeed the palace built for the victorious David by King Hiram of Tyre as recounted in Samuel II:5.

A 20-meter-long section of the 7-meter-thick wall has now been uncovered. It indicates that the City of David once served as a major government center, Mazar said.

Mazar estimates less than a quarter of the entire wall has been uncovered so far, and says that it is the largest site from King David's time ever to have been discovered.

The dig is sponsored by the capital's Shalem Center, with academic backing from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A few comments:

1) As noted elsewhere, the headline is unfortunate.  Mazar did not find, and does not claim to have found, any portion of a wall of a temple.  The missing word is "period" - Mazar found a wall from the "First Temple period," which is equivalent to Iron Age II (1000-586 B.C.).

2) This story strikes me as a publicity-getter, as it lacks much substance.  No photos or diagrams are included, and details are sparse.  This accords with the rather secretive approach being taken in this dig.  I can give personal examples, but will not.

3) I have trouble believing that a 7-meter-thick wall was found, and if it was, I hardly believe that it belonged to a palace (and not to the city itself). That's the same thickness as the Broad Wall, which is one of the largest fortification walls in the entire country.  The City of David is a small area; a 7-meter wall would take away a significant percentage of the living area.

4) I am also suspicious of Mazar's dating until more is published (and the experts confirm it). That's not because I don't believe in the biblical account of David (actually, I do), but because I think that sometimes archaeologists jump to desired conclusions too quickly.

5) I have significant objections to Mazar's interpretation of the Bible as regards David's palace.  Elaboration on that will have to wait for another time.


Excavation area from the east

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1 Comments:

  • Thanks Todd, not least for the photo which enables me to situate things better. I too was struck by the uninformative and publicity seeking tone of the piece. So I wrote to Mazar to see if she was planning on publishing more than such teasers. She claims to be doing her best to publish as soon as possible, but also notes that the report on the first season is still not out!

    I suppose archaeologists are in a cleft stick needing publicity to feed the "machine" but also wanting to act responsibly and publish properly. I don;t happen to think this sort of Newspaper puff piece is a desirable way to go though!

    By Blogger Tim, at Tue Apr 10, 05:17:00 PM  

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