Mati Milstein in Tel Aviv, Israel
or National Geographic News
Published February 26, 2010
A 3,000-year-old defensive wall possibly built by King Solomon has been unearthed in Jerusalem, according to the Israeli archaeologist who led the excavation. The discovery appears to validate a Bible passage, she says.
The tenth-century B.C. wall is 230 feet (70 meters) long and about 6 meters (20 feet) tall. It stands along what was then the edge of Jerusalem"”between the Temple Mount, still Jerusalem's paramount landmark, and the ancient City of David, today a modern-day Arab neighborhood called Silwan.
The stone barrier is part of a defensive complex that includes a gatehouse, an adjacent building, and a guard tower, which has been only partially excavated, according to Eilat Mazar, who led the dig for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Over the years, the structures have been partially demolished"”their building materials scavenged for later structures"”and what remained was buried under rubble, Mazar said.
The Bible's First Book of Kings"”widely believed to have been written centuries after the time period in question"”says Solomon, king of Israel, built a defensive wall in Jerusalem. The new discovery is the first archaeological evidence of this structure, Mazar says.
(Related: "King Solomon's Mines Rediscovered?")
Bearing Out a Bible Passage?
Ancient artifacts found in and around the complex pointed Mazar to the tenth-century B.C. date.
"We don't have many kings during the tenth century that could have built such a structure, basically just David and Solomon," she said.
According to the Bible, King David, of David-and-Goliath fame, was the father of King Solomon, who is said to have built the First Temple of Jerusalem on the Temple Mount.
Ceramics found near the wall helped narrow the date down, being of a level of sophistication common to the second half of the tenth century B.C."”King Solomon's time, according to Mazar.
Three-foot-tall (one-meter-tall) earthenware storage vessels were found near the gatehouse, one of them with a Hebrew inscription indicating the container belonged to a high-ranking government official.
Figurines typical of tenth-century B.C. Jerusalem"”including four-legged animals and large-breasted women likely symbolizing fertility"”were also uncovered, as were jar handles bearing impressions reading "to the king" and various Hebrew names, she said.
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