Israeli says he has found King David's citadel

May 06, 2014 by Daniel Estrin
In this Thursday, May 1, 2014, photo, Eli Shukron, an archeologist formerly with Israel's Antiquities Authority, walks in the City of David archaeological site near Jerusalem's Old City. Shukron, who excavated at the site for nearly two decades, says he believes there is strong evidence that it is the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of Jerusalem, rekindling a longstanding academic and political debate about using the Bible as a field guide to identifying ancient ruins. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of Jerusalem, rekindling a longstanding debate about using the Bible as a field guide to identifying ancient ruins.

The claim by Eli Shukron, like many such claims in the field of biblical archaeology, has run into criticism. It joins a string of announcements by Israeli archaeologists saying they have unearthed palaces of the legendary biblical king, who is revered in Jewish religious tradition for establishing Jerusalem as its central holy city—but who has long eluded historians looking for clear-cut evidence of his existence and reign.

The present-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also wrapped up in the subject. The $10 million excavation, made accessible to tourists last month, took place in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem and was financed by an organization that settles Jews in guarded homes in Arab areas of east Jerusalem in an attempt to prevent the city from being divided. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future independent state.

Shukron, who excavated at the City of David archaeological site for nearly two decades, says he believes strong evidence supports his theory.

"This is the citadel of King David, this is the Citadel of Zion, and this is what King David took from the Jebusites," said Shukron, who said he recently left Israel's Antiquities Authority to work as a lecturer and tour guide. "The whole site we can compare to the Bible perfectly."

Most archaeologists in Israel do not dispute that King David was a historical figure, and a written reference to the "House of David" was found in an archaeological site in northern Israel. But archaeologists are divided on identifying Davidic sites in Jerusalem, which he is said to have made his capital.

Shukron's dig, which began in 1995, uncovered a massive of five-ton stones stacked 21 feet (6 meters) wide. Pottery shards helped date the fortification walls to be 3,800 years old. They are the largest walls found in the region from before the time of King Herod, the ambitious builder who expanded the Second Jewish Temple complex in Jerusalem almost 2,100 years ago. The fortification surrounded a water spring and is thought to have protected the 's water source.

The fortification was built 800 years before King David would have captured it from its Jebusite rulers. Shukron says the biblical story of David's conquest of Jerusalem provides clues that point to this particular fortification as David's entry point into the city.

In the second Book of Samuel, David orders the capture of the walled city by entering it through the water shaft. Shukron's excavation uncovered a narrow shaft where spring water flowed into a carved pool, thought to be where city inhabitants would gather to draw water. Excess water would have flowed out of the walled city through another section of the shaft Shukron said he discovered—where he believes the city was penetrated.

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014, photo, Eli Shukron, an archeologist formerly with Israel's Antiquities Authority, walks in the City of David archaeological site near Jerusalem's Old City. The dig, which began in 1995, uncovered a massive fortification and pottery shards that date to 3,800 years old. Shukron says this is the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of Jerusalem. But archaeologists are divided on identifying Davidic sites in Jerusalem, the city he is said to have made his capital. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Shukron says no other structure in the area of ancient Jerusalem matches what David would have captured to take the city. The biblical account names it the "Citadel of David" and the "Citadel of Zion."

Ronny Reich, who was Shukron's collaborator at the site until 2008, disagrees with the theory. He said more broken pottery found from the 10th century BC, presumably King David's reign, should have been found if the fortification had been in use then.

Shukron said he only found two shards that date close to that time. He believes the reason he didn't find more is because the site was in continuous use and old pottery would have been cleared out by David's successors. Much larger quantities of shards found at the site date to about 100 years after King David's reign.

Reich said it was not possible to reach definitive conclusions about biblical connections without more direct archaeological evidence.

"The connection between archaeology and the Bible has become very, very problematic in recent years," Reich said.

In this Thursday, May 1, 2014, photo, Eli Shukron, an archeologist formerly with Israel's Antiquities Authority, walks in the City of David archaeological site near Jerusalem's Old City. Shukron, who excavated at the site for nearly two decades, says he has found the legendary citadel captured by King David in his conquest of Jerusalem. But archaeologists are divided on identifying Davidic sites in Jerusalem, the city he is said to have made his capital. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Critics say that some archaeologists are too eager to hold a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other in a quest to verify the biblical narrative—either due to religious beliefs or to prove the Jewish people's historic ties to the land. But other respected Israeli say recent finds match the biblical account more than naysayers claim.

Shukron, a veteran archaeologist who has excavated a number of significant sites in Jerusalem, said he drew his conclusions after nearly two decades exploring the ancient city.

"I know every little thing in the City of David. I didn't see in any other place such a huge fortification as this," said Shukron.

The biblical connection to the site is emphasized at the City of David archaeological park, where the "Spring Citadel"—the excavation's official name—has been retrofitted for tourists, including a movie projected on a screen in front of the fortification to illustrate how it may have looked 3,800 years ago. The City of David—located in east Jerusalem—is one of the most popular tourist sites in the holy city, with 500,000 tourists visiting last year.

"We open the Bible and we see how the archaeology and the Bible actually come together in this place," said Doron Spielman, vice president of the nonprofit Elad Foundation, which oversees the archaeological park. He carried a softcover Bible in his hand as he ambled around the excavation.

The site has come under criticism because of the Elad Foundation's nationalistic agenda. Most of the foundation's funding comes from private donations from Jews in the U.S. and U.K., and its activities include purchasing Arab homes near the excavated areas and then helping Jews move in, sometimes under heavy guard.

Critics say this political agenda should not mix with archaeology.

Explore further: Scientists seek more tombs at ancient Greek site

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ThomasQuinn
2 / 5 (4) May 06, 2014
This sounds like a lot of assumptions and wishful thinking to me. It's definitely not decisively proven in any way. It's also not the first time claims like this are made without a sound basis.
Birger
2.3 / 5 (3) May 06, 2014
Carbon 14 evidence, please. The very name "the City of David archaeological site" implies an assumption about the date that is so far unproven.
As for the reliability of biblical sources, towns that were said to have been built by David have C14 ages at least a century younger. The simple truth is that religious scribes were not averse to making things up if they could get away with it. A good story was more important than historical accuracy.
foolspoo
1 / 5 (4) May 06, 2014
Please understand guys, jesus is not a mythological figure. the bible has many events based on reality. just happens that the cult built on his name succeeded where the Mayans failed
SoylentGrin
1 / 5 (1) May 06, 2014
Another problem with using the bible or religious beliefs as a guide for scientific inquiry:

Science is about finding information, and if that information later turns out to be incorrect, it is corrected, and progress moves on.
When you're trying to prove a conclusion from the start, you will find whatever you can to support that conclusion... then stop.

In this case, if it turns out to be something other than David's Citadel, the facts and evidence that would lead to that would be largely ignored, something no investigator who even pretends to claim that title would dream of doing.

Or their preconceived narrative prevents them from finding anything else. If for instance, archaeologists of the future were excavating Atlanta based on a copy of Gone with the Wind, they would be looking for things that were never there, or interpret everything they find from a Civil War perspective. The Braves locker room would be for musket storage, baseballs were experimental cannon ammunition...
freethinking
1 / 5 (5) May 06, 2014
Yea, the bible can't be true no matter the evidence for it. If it was true the ramification would be terrifying. Ravi Zacharious talks about the truth of Jesus and the bible...
http://www.youtub...V5Pzcj4o
ElijahTruth
1 / 5 (2) May 06, 2014
His Great Mystery is being finished Rev:10:7 by His sciences as He prophesy for this Epic era! His word creation science is also as prophesy/promised ending aging/sickness/sorrow this day and time Rev:1:17-18 and 21:4... For undeniable evidences go to http://adamandeve...pot.com/ and http://adamandeve...pot.com/ and http://www.adaman...he_signs the posted signs were done so 6 years ago and more and are now each mornings news.... Respect too all born of dm/Atom/God/Jesus Deuteronomy 32:8 ... It has begun
Birger
5 / 5 (1) May 08, 2014
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Re. the Old Testament, biblical scholars well-versed in ancient Hebrew have long identified at least three separate authors of the first books, then a yet another for Deuteromeny, then finally a redactor who cut and pasted the narratives of the first three authors into a single narrative, attributed to Moses himself. Since all this editing and writing took place long after the events they described there was a lot of interpolation going on.
A lot of the oldest OT is agitprop, written to fit the purposes of factions fighting for legitimacy as the true priesthood. Northern Levite priests involved in the writing were praising northern heroes and dissing Aaronite priests, southern priests involved in the writing were praising southern heroes and dissing notherners.
Pious readers looking for clues to divine thoughts in the exact phrases of the OT will be frustrated by the sediments of iron-age politics twisting older oral history.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) May 09, 2014
Ask most people who don't believe in the bible what it would take for them to believe.... the answer is inevitably nothing would be enough to prove to them the validity of the bible. Signifying they are closed minded.

However the interesting thing is when many who actually study the bible, it's history, and it's claims specifically to disprove it for themselves, many of these same people wind up believing it. For example, Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, Frank Morrison, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Andre Kole.

The most dangerous thing for someone who does not believe in the bible to do is to actually study it, learn it's history, and examine it's claims.......... the safest thing for a closed minded person to do is to believe other close minded people and take the blue pill.

foolspoo
1 / 5 (1) May 09, 2014
bunch of incompetent bigots. save the dogma. the bigotry lies in the simple, closed minded nature of you fools
foolspoo
3 / 5 (2) May 09, 2014
freethinking... the irony of your words, avatar and this so called "logic" are very discouraging. follow your own advice. logic and dogma can not coexist. freedom and oppression can not coexist. humanity and religion can not coexist.
freethinking
1 / 5 (2) May 11, 2014
fp, your avatar very appropriate.
Birger
3 / 5 (2) May 12, 2014
I have personally never seen a "methaphyical" miracle. I have seen many examples of bogus religious or ideological claims. I require just as much evidence for believing a section of the OT is correct as I would for anyone claiming the teachings of Buddha are based in reality.
In this context, I would require an object-linked to the deepest layers- with an undisputed C 14 dating confirming the existence of a large settlement in Jerusalem a whole century earlier than all previous c 14 datings.
OdinsAcolyte
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2014
Politics has no place in science. Politics is a corruption to everything it touches.
foolspoo
not rated yet May 20, 2014
Birger: your ignorance is wreaking... the buddhas teachings require no proof. they are a philosophy of humble living. As with most of these spiritual and insightful humans, it was the profiteers that came after them that convoluted their message into one of dogma.

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