Avraham Faust on David’s Palace

Have Eilat Mazar’s Archaeology Methods Truly Revealed the Royal Abode in Jerusalem?

Eilat Mazar’s excavation and archaeology methods are beyond reproach, but her recent claim to have discovered King David’s palace at her Jerusalem dig site has met with harsh criticism from other scholars in the field. In the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, senior archaeologist Avraham Faust reviews the evidence to show why he agrees—and disagrees—with her theory.

Although Hebrew University archaeologist Eilat Mazar has received criticism from some about her claim to have discovered King David’s Palace on the Jerusalem ridge known as the City of David—the most ancient part of the city—no one questions the quality of her archaeology methods of excavation. Now Avraham Faust, a senior archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University, reviews Eilat Mazar’s archaeology, methods and conclusions about the so-called Large Stone Structure that she revealed (above) and explains why he agrees—and disagrees—with her theory. (Photo: Courtesy Eilat Mazar)

The narrow ridge, still known as the City of David, lies south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. It is the location of the most ancient settlement of Jerusalem. As Avraham Faust explains, Mazar’s decision to dig in the City of David was informed by the Biblical text and by the excavations that preceded hers. Based on earlier finds, Mazar thought she knew where David’s palace should be located. When she uncovered the Large Stone Structure from the Iron Age, she proposed it to be built by King David as his palace.

Eilat Mazar excavated a complex structure that includes a massive eastern wall. Within this Large Stone Structure, as Mazar named it, were layers of Iron Age I remains, showing that it must have been built no later than the Iron Age I (c. 1200–1000/950 B.C.E.). Even so, Mazar identified the building as likely having been the palace King David built for himself in the early Iron Age IIa. Avraham Faust, however, argues that the archaeological evidence indicates a construction date before David’s time. According to Faust, Mazar’s archaeology methods for dating the structure are good, and David may have used the structure as his palace, but Mazar fudges the dates a bit to say that King David built it.

Read more about the complex archaeology methods surrounding the study of the Large Stone Structure in Avraham Faust’s article “Did Eilat Mazar Find David’s Palace?” from the September/October 2012 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

Eilat Mazar’s full article “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” is available for free in Bible History Daily.

Visit the BAS Library to read Avraham Faust’s “Did Eilat Mazar Find David’s Palace?” or read it in the new BAR digital edition.

Posted in Archaeologists, Biblical Scholars & Works, Jerusalem.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Add Your Comments

8 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. BROOKE says

    Mr. Faust, When you argue or question a fellow Archaeologist’s dating of an archaeological site, don’t you think that an accurate date given by you seems fair in your criticism? Eliat’s conjecture is just that, a possibility! Without a provable date from you regarding the time line of the structure in question, your critical comments are also conjecture! Conjecture versus Conjecture seems to me to be a wash without resolve or conclusion. A comment with little or no meaning that could be left unsaid. Mr. Faust you are starting to sound a little like Israel Finkelstein. A minimalist that from the premise of envy, argues for the sake of arguing while his contemporaries successfully add to the archaeological record.

  2. ann says

    I agree with Brooke, in that to argue a point you MUST have the back up of more than just conjecture or a guess to point out the so called wrongs…

  3. Arnie says

    Suggesting a possible site for David’s palace is not the same as stating it for a fact. The very fact that so many others come out of the woodwork is a good thing but do not criticize Mazar’s suggestions without proposing one of your own. Even her title (Did I find King David’s Palace) suggests a lack of finality in her thinking.

  4. MRMRS says

    I beleive in 2007 there was another story about someone whom had a grandfather that was also into archology, However, he passed away before that site was discovered or re discovered lower amounts of digs. Seems like they believed it might be possible that David had his palace outside Jeresulem, because of the vast amount of people already residing within thost city walls, and more or less very likely that he would desire a large and beautiful palace so needed more ground and room. It makes sence to me. However, it was also about that dig having fill in between the base and that large amounts of older objects were there — could be it was the place. However, we will only surmise when and hwere his palace is located =- with so many years hence and with the facts that the Israelites were thereafter fighting the romans when “Jesus” was born etc. “All the facts are just going to thought of as “theory” because it don’t make any “definate” remarks in the bible as where ——as it did when Solomon built the temple. seems there is more evidence unearthed therein. I was happy to see that they also had discovered the “ritchel bath” as that was so very important prior to going into any temple or palace etc. ‘would love to have more visiton as to the home of David and also other palaces he had used and or was built during his lifetime…….and his children’s lifetimes.

  5. Enopoletus says

    I, meanwhile, continue to accept the hypothesis suggested by Israel Finkelstein et. al. in 2007 and refined in 2011; that most of what Mazar terms the “Large Stone Structure is, in fact, Late Hellenistic. There is no good evidence I have yet found that the largest walls (except the lower part of W20) of the Large Stone Structure date any earlier than the Hasmonean period.

    Mr. Faust you are starting to sound a little like Israel Finkelstein. A minimalist that from the premise of envy, argues for the sake of arguing while his contemporaries successfully add to the archaeological record.

    -Are you suggesting Israel Finkelstein’s interpretations of previously-unearthed archaeological data or his Megiddo excavations have not added to the archaeological record? Are you suggesting that Faust’s horrendous over-reliance on a reconstruction in his 2010 article on the SSS was anywhere near comparable with Finkelstein’s consistent reliance on the actual data E. Mazar unearthed?

    I was happy to see that they also had discovered the “ritchel bath” as that was so very important prior to going into any temple or palace etc.

    -That “ritual bath” (can everyone please learn to spell!) is admitted by all to be Hasmonean in date!

  6. david says

    shalom, thank you! Ask Samara Rabbi richmans secratery where we were standing. The temple institute was told to build *Temple*(tent inside tent) Samara was/is Rabbi Richmans secratery in 2009 when I arrived. Please look under where we were standing? I knew nothing about *Apple of his eye* I did what *i* was told I pray that Rabbi does also. Thank you *lots of love*david

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Did I Find King David’s Palace? « God's Honest Truth linked to this post on September 8, 2012

    [...] Eilat Mazar’s excavations in the article “Did Eilat Mazar Find David’s Palace?” Read about Faust’s article in Bible History Daily, or read the full article in the BAS Library or digital [...]


Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.


Enter Your Log In Credentials

Change Password

×