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Essay 2 – Secondary Source Analysis: Has David’s Palace Been Found?
Length: 2–3 pages (600–900 words)
In 2006, archaeologist Eilat Mazar published an article entitled “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” based
on several years of excavating in Jerusalem. This article – published in the popular magazine Biblical
Archaeology Review – summarizes her argument that an archaeological space that she unearthed in
Jerusalem should be identified as the palace of King David. Mazar’s analysis of the archaeological site
has been subjected to significant scrutiny. In particular, fellow scholar Avraham Faust published a
response in the same magazine entitled “Did Eilat Mazar Find David’s Palace?”
Your task for this paper is to read these two articles carefully with the goal of outlining the way in
which these two scholars build their arguments from primary data and reach conclusions. Your
essay should respond to the following questions:
What is the main issue about which they are arguing? What evidence does Mazar use to make
her case? How does Faust interpret this same evidence?
➢ What general methods does each scholar utilize in approaching the data?
➢ Is there evidence that one scholar utilizes that the other does not?
➢ Is there some evidence that one scholar deems to be a greater importance?
o For the last three points, how do the differing approaches to the data lead each scholar to
Your paper should be an exercise is unpacking how each scholar examines the data. You should not
be “choosing sides” in the argument (i.e., trying to figure out who is right).
No outside sources should be used for this paper
If you encounter any unfamiliar term or concept, look it up in a dictionary. You can also consult
the “helpful resources” section of the syllabus for resources specific to the study of ancient Israel.
Look up any biblical passages that are discussed in your Harper Collins Study Bible
Review the “basic formatting guidelines” from the essay #1
Citing the articles: Refer to the articles as either “Mazar” or “Faust.” When you call attention to a
specific point, be sure to include a page number for the reference. Only cite their actual words when
you think that a direct quote is absolutely necessary to making your point. When you do, be sure to
use quotation marks and cite the page number.
Basic Formatting Guidelines
1. Type double space.
2. Include page numbers
3. No front-page; just put your name at the top of the first page.
Did I Find King David’s Palace?
This article was originally published in the January/February 2006 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.
There can be little doubt that King David had a palace. The Bible tells us that Hiram of Tyre (who would
later help King Solomon build the Temple) constructed the palace for David: “King Hiram of Tyre sent
envoys to David, with cedar logs, carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a palace for David” (2 Samuel
5:11). Nine years ago I wrote an article in BAR suggesting where, in my opinion, the remains of King
David’s palace might lie.1 I proposed looking in the northern part of the most ancient area of Jerusalem,
known as the City of David.
I was struck by this idea while engaged in other research on the archaeology of Jerusalem. I had noticed the
findings of the well-known British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, who dug here in the 1960s. In her Area
H, at the northern end of the City of David, Kenyon discovered a section of a massive public structure that
she considered to be part of a new casemate walla built by King Solomon. She dated the wall, on the basis
of the pottery associated with it, to the tenth century B.C.E., the time of King David and King Solomon,
according to the Bible. Kenyon was quite knowledgeable about Jerusalem pottery of the First Temple
period, and, although she could not distinguish with assurance between pottery sherds of the tenth and the
ninth centuries B.C.E., she was quite capable of distinguishing pottery sherds from those centuries (which
belong to the period archaeologists call Iron Age IIa) from sherds of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E
(Iron Age IIb). The pottery sherds she excavated in Area H were not of the later types. Perhaps this
casemate wall, I speculated, was part of David’s palace.
Photo of area by Eilat Mazar; photo of statue by Erich Lessing/Art
In this composite electronic image, a statue of King David
seems to hover above a building that may have been his
In 1995, not long before he passed away, I spoke with my grandfather, Professor Benjamin Mazar of Hebrew
University, about my idea. I told him I thought there was a high likelihood of finding remains from King David’s
palace near Kenyon’s Area H. Aside from the archeological discoveries there, the site fit quite well with the notice
in 2 Samuel 5:17, which describes David in the City of David going down, or descending (yered), from his residence
to the citadel or fortress (metzudah). The citadel or fortress to which he descended was of course the
Canaanite/Jebusite stronghold, the Fortress of Zion (Metzudat Tsion; see 2 Samuel 5:7) that he had conquered a
short time earlier. It is clear from the topography of the City of David that David could have gone down to the
citadel only from the north, as the city is surrounded by deep valleys on every other side. It also makes sense that
the Jebusite stronghold would have been located at the high point in the City of David, that is, in its northernmost
section. From here, the fortress would not only command all areas of the city but would also provide for the
defense of the city on its only vulnerable side—the north, which had no natural defense. If this was in fact the case,
one can infer that after conquering the city, David’s palace was constructed north of this citadel (David went down
to the fortress) and outside the northern fortifications of the city.
Although Kenyon most probably correctly dated the remains of the monumental structure she exposed in Area H, she never considered the possibility that King
David built his palace outside the bounds of the fortified city. It therefore never occurred to her that this structure might have belonged to David’s palace.
Speaking of “the restricted area of site H, north of the line of the east-west complex that divides occupation of the Jebusite period from that which is probably tenth
century B.C.,”2 Kenyon earlier wrote that here “there was a very important building, which could well have been defensive, and which was subsequently added to,
either in the late Jebusite or early Israelite period.”3
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In short, Kenyon did not consider the possibility that David’s palace would have lain beyond the fortification line
outside the city. She knew that by David’s time, the city had already been settled for two thousand years and had been
surrounded by a wall for nearly a thousand years. The city was already very cramped. Nevertheless, Kenyon put
David’s palace inside the city: “David must have cleared a space within the Jebusite town, but the size of this
residence is unlikely to have been great, for anything grandiose would have taken too much space within the
restricted area of the Jebusite-Davidic city.”4
To my mind, however, choosing a site for his palace adjacent to the northern side of the Jebusite fortress would have
been a very logical step for someone who was already planning a northern expansion of the city—an expansion for the
Temple on what was to become the Temple Mount, for which David bought land from Araunah the Jebusite (2
Samuel 24:18–25). In peaceful times, the palace inhabitants would not be exposed to danger, and in the unlikely
event of a threatening military assault, such as a Philistine offensive, the palace could be abandoned and the
occupants could descend to the stronghold within the barricaded city. And in fact that is what 2 Samuel 5:17 (and the
chapter generally) refers to when it says that David went down to the fortress to protect himself against the
Philistines, who attacked after he had been crowned king of all Israel.
David had made a bold alliance with Hiram the Phoenician, king of Tyre, who built him a new palace in Jerusalem.
When the Philistines heard that David was now the newly crowned king of all Israel, they rose up to attack him. Upon
hearing of the attack, David abandoned his new palace and descended to the stronghold (2 Samuel 5:17).
When I told my grandfather of my idea about the possible location of David’s palace, he was enthusiastic about it.
“Where, exactly,” he asked me, “did Kenyon find the piles of ashlars [nicely hewn rectangular stones] together with
the proto-Aeolic (sometimes called proto-Ionic) capital? Wasn’t it right next to the place you’re talking about?”
Indeed, it was. When I ran to check Kenyon’s reports, I confirmed that ashlar stones and an elegant proto-Aeolic
capital had been found literally at the foot of the scarp at the southeastern edge of the structure in Area H. And this
was just the kind of impressive remains that one would expect to come from a tenth-century B.C.E. king’s palace.
(This was the case, for example, at Megiddo.)5
Mazar was not the first to make important
discoveries in this part of Jerusalem. British
archaeologist Dame Kathleen Kenyon, who
excavated there in the 1960s, found a portion of a
large structure that she thought was part of a
casemate wall (two parallel walls divided by
perpendicular walls) built by King Solomon in the
tenth century B.C.E. Mazar wondered whether
Kenyon’s discovery was actually part of David’s
palace—a possibility Kenyon never considered.
One of the many things I learned from my grandfather was how to relate to the Biblical text: Pore over it again and again, for it contains within it descriptions of
genuine historical reality. It is not a simple matter to differentiate the layers of textual sources that have been piled one atop the other over generations; we don’t
always have the tools to do it. But it is clear that concealed within the Biblical text are grains of detailed historical truth.
By the time I published my first article (in Hebrew) on these ideas, my grandfather had died. I wanted to publish as quickly as I could because so much
construction was taking place that I worried the site might be built over. Only by publishing my ideas could I hope that someone would raise the necessary funds to
excavate the site.
To be frank, it would take a certain amount of courage, as well as money, to support this excavation. My
position, to put it mildly, had not received sweeping support from the archaeological community. Indeed,
quite the opposite was the case; the prevailing opinion was that no significant ruins remained to be
discovered at the top of the City of David. In addition to Kenyon, R.A.S. Macalister and J. Garrow Duncan
had excavated at this and adjacent sites between 1923 and 1925, reaching bedrock in many places. They left
the impression that, aside from a few walls and the debris of large stone masonry, there wasn’t much left to
look for. Moreover, bedrock in this area is quite near the surface. Many scholars therefore concluded that it
was not worth resuming excavations at this site.
It was not until almost a decade after my first publication that we
found a donor and supporter. Throughout all this time, my friend
Bouky Boaz worked with me, going to meetings and talking to
potential donors. Four years ago I became a senior fellow at the
Shalem Center, a research institute in Jerusalem for Jewish and
A founding father of Israeli archaeology—and the grandfather
of author Eilat Mazar—Benjamin Mazar is shown near the
Israeli social thought. At one point, I gave a lecture on my ideas to
southern wall of the Temple Mount, an area he excavated
a seminar there, and the president of the center, Daniel Polisar,
extensively in the 1970s.
was so impressed that he decided to try to help. On a trip to New
York he mentioned the project to the chairman of the Center’s
board of trustees, Roger Hertog. Mr. Hertog courageously took up the challenge to finance the excavation of the site.
“David went down to the fortress” when he
feared an attack by the Philistines, according
to 2 Samuel 5:17. Where did he go down
from? This photo helps provide the answer. It
is taken looking north, facing the spur
known as the City of David; beyond it is the
Temple Mount, where Solomon built the
Temple. Marked on the photo are Area H,
where Kathleen Kenyon found parts of what
Mazar has now identified as a large public
structure; to the south of it is the massive
Stepped-Stone Structure, a portion of hillside
blanketed with large blocks that must have
supported a major building on the slope
above it; the Gihon Spring, ancient
We began excavations in mid-February 2005 on behalf of the Shalem Center and under the academic auspices of the
Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We also enjoyed the full cooperation of the Elad
Association, which runs the visitors’ center in the City of David, in which the excavation site is located. Almost from the
start, ancient remains, preserved beyond all expectations, were unearthed. Surprisingly, I felt very much at ease
throughout the entire excavation. Perhaps what helped me most was the recognition of the importance of what we were
doing. I decided I would be silent about the palace theory. I would let the stones speak for themselves. Either they would
corroborate the palace theory or refute it.
It soon became clear that Macalister and Duncan had “visited” almost the entire area of the dig, which covered more than
3,000 square feet. In most places they had left walls in place. Only occasionally did they take apart walls down to bedrock.
About 5 feet below the surface, we were surprised to find Byzantine remains (fourth-seventh century C.E.), but nothing
later. I really have no explanation for the absence of any later remains. One may speculate that they were destroyed by
still later construction, but nonetheless it is surprising.
From the Byzantine period, we uncovered a structure that had previously been exposed by Macalister and Duncan. We
uncovered a small part of it, however, for the first time. A single room that had survived the centuries had a plain, white
mosaic floor belonging to a multi-roomed house that Macalister and Duncan called the House of Eusebius, a name
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Jerusalem’s only source of fresh water; and
the Kidron Valley, east of the city. Author Eilat
Mazar suggests that the Stepped-Stone
Structure was part of the same complex as
David’s palace. Why would David have built
his royal residence beyond Jerusalem’s
fortified walls? Because there was no room
within the small walled city. The palace
required no protection in normal times;
when a threat loomed, David and his
entourage could quickly “go down,” as the
Bible says, to the city’s fortress a few feet to
imprinted on one of the drain tiles in the house. The House of Eusebius no doubt belonged to someone of considerable
wealth. The house was built in typical Byzantine style, with a central peristyle courtyard just like the Byzantine houses
discovered in Benjamin Mazar’s excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount.6
The House of Eusebius was built directly on top of remains from a large building from the
Second Temple period (late first century B.C.E. and first century C.E.). It was apparently
built as a residence, but all that survived was part of the basement whose floor contained
a number of water installations. Particularly impressive were a large (17 by 10 feet)
plastered pool, a plastered room covered by an arch and a plastered ritual bath (miqveh)
with steps. Within the arched room was an assemblage of pottery testifying to the date of
its last use—70 C.E., the year in which the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.7
The structure from the Second Temple period also incorporated some quite large stones from an even earlier structure. And,
indeed, the Second Temple period remains sat on an earlier structure characterized by large, impressive stones. Some of these
large stones had even been re-used in the construction of the still-later Byzantine house.
We began calling this early building under (and earlier than) the Second Temple remains the Large-Stone Structure. The name
stuck, and we still call it that—at least until the time comes when we are able to identify it more specifically.
We also found part of the Large-Stone Structure in the excavation of Macalister and Duncan. They interpreted what were in fact
the remains of the Large-Stone Structure as a Jebusite wall that had been destroyed by King David and left in ruins. Since
Macalister and Duncan believed it was a wall that had been destroyed, they didn’t bother to “peel back” the large stones that were
found strewn over the entire area of the excavation and therefore couldn’t have seen what we discovered when we removed the
stones. We found giant walls from the Large-Stone Structure between 6 and 8 feet wide extending in every direction beyond the
area of our excavation!
Israel Antiquities Authority
Hints of glory. This beautiful
capital, carved in proto-Aeolic
(also called proto-Ionic) style, was
discovered by Kenyon at the base
of a scarp adjacent to the
building that may be David’s
palace and was likely once a part
of that building. Kenyon also
found at the base of the scarp
piles of ashlars that were once
part of this impressive building.
The eastern side of the Large-Stone Structure follows the upper eastern fortification line of the City of David. About 15 or 20 feet below it on the south is the famous
Stepped-Stone Structure. The Stepped-Stone Structure is the largest Iron Age structure in Israel, as tall as a 12-story building, built on the side of the hill. It now
seems to be part of the same building complex as the Large-Stone Structure. Most scholars believed that the Stepped-Stone Structure supported an artificial
platform on top of which stood the Fortress of Zion (2 Samuel 5:7), which has not survived. Now it seems that the Stepped-Stone Structure also supported the
From Excavations on the Hill of the Ophel
A drain tile stamped with the name Eusebius. The tile was part
of a Byzantine-era (fourth-seventh century C.E.) house
discovered in the 1920s in the northern portion of the City of
David. Eilat Mazar made her discoveries underneath the area
where the house had been found.
The northeastern side of the Large-Stone Structure was built directly on a 20-foot-high manmade rock cliff uncovered by Kenyon. At the foot of the cliff, Kenyon
discovered the debris of ashlar stones and the proto-Aeolic capital. They had fallen from the Large-Stone Structure.
The Large-Stone Structure, now seen as a massive structure built on a high scarp, was not just any public building, but a structure that was clearly the product of
inspiration, imagination and considerable economic investment. This is clear not only from the large, impressive stones from which it was constructed but also
from the 5-foot-long proto-Aeolic capital that must have once been part of the building. This exemplar is the most beautiful and elegant proto-Aeolic capital ever
found in Israel, surpassing those from Samaria and Megiddo. Imagine the column that supported this capital. Then imagine the building in which such columns
Moreover, the area had not been previously settled. The site was apparently outside the walls of the Canaanite city. How do we know this? Beneath the Large-Stone
Structure the bedrock had been previously leveled or, where cavities were too deep, filled with crushed limestone and made level. The leveled bedrock with the
limestone fill crea …
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