Tel Aviv University
Recent excavations at the City of David have revealed a set of massive walls constructed of large undressed stones. Excavator Eilat Mazar has presented them as the remains of a single building, which she labelled the ‘Large Stone Structure’.
Mazar interpreted the ‘Large Stone Structure’ as part of a big construction complex, which had also included the ‘Stepped Stone Structure’ on the slope. She dated her ‘Large Stone Structure’ to ca. 1000 BCE and identiﬁed it as the palace of King David. We argue that: (1) the walls unearthed by Mazar do not belong to a single building; (2) the more elaborate walls may be associated with elements uncovered by Macalister and Duncan in the 1920s and should possibly be dated to the Hellenistic period; (3) the ‘Stepped Stone Structure’ represents at least two phases of construction— the lower (downslope) and earlier, possibly dating to the
Iron IIA in the 9th century BCE, and the later (which connects to the Hasmonaean
First Wall upslope) dating to the Hellenistic period.
Recent excavations at the City of David, the site where biblical Jerusalem was founded, have revealed the remains of a set of massive walls constructed of large undressed stones. The excavator, Eilat Mazar, has presented them as the remains of a single, substantial building, which she has labelled the ‘Large Stone Structure’
(E. Mazar 2006a; 2006b; 2007). Mazar dated her ‘Large Stone Structure’ to ca. 1000
BCE and, inspired by the ideas of the late Benjamin Mazar (E. Mazar 2006a: 20), identiﬁed it as the palace of King David. Eilat Mazar’s archaeological, chronological and, in fact, historical conclusions have unreservedly been endorsed by Amihai
Mazar (2006: 269−270). The ostensible importance of this discovery and the media frenzy that has accompanied the excavation demand immediate discussion, which is based on the preliminary publications and on our own observations made during our visits to the site in both excavation seasons.1
We are grateful to Dr. Mazar for her hospitality and thorough explanations during our visits following the 2005 season and toward the end of the 2007 season. We also wish to thank her for permission to publish the illustrations on pages 146 and 156.
Finkelstein, Herzog, Singer-Avitz, Ussishkin: Has King David’s Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?
HISTORY OF RESEARCH
Eilat Mazar’s excavation ﬁeld, which in 2005 covered an area of ca. 25 × 9−14 m, is located on the crest of the City of David ridge, directly to the west of Shiloh’s
Area G. This ﬁeld (and the adjoining eastern slope of the ridge) has been explored extensively. It falls within the northern side of Macalister and Duncan’s Field No. 5
(Macalister and Duncan 1926: map in back pocket). Macalister and Duncan exposed most of the area down to bedrock, including several cisterns and a rock-cut ‘olive press’ (ibid.: Pl. I, compare also the photograph ibid.: Fig. 20 with E. Mazar 2007: photograph on p. 31). They also uncovered the ‘Jebusite Ramp’ along the upper edge of the eastern slope (Macalister and Duncan 1926: Pl. V), commonly known today as the ‘Stepped Stone Structure’, as well as the two towers adjacent to the ramp—the southern, ‘Great Tower’, which they attributed to the ‘Early Hebrew period’, and the northern ‘Maccabean Tower’ (ibid.: map in back pocket). This fortiﬁcation system has been widely identiﬁed as part of the late Hellenistic, Hasmonaean First Wall of
Jerusalem (e.g., Geva 2003: 529−534; Wightman 1993: 88−94).
In the 1960s the area was explored by Kenyon (for the ﬁnal report see Steiner
2001). On the eastern slope (in her Area A, with Sub-areas A/I−A/XVIII) Kenyon exposed parts of the ‘Stepped Stone Structure’ with domestic units built over it, and investigated the set of the underlying terraces. In the late 1970s and early 1980s
Shiloh continued the exploration of the