King David’s Palace and the Millo

Nadav Na’aman explores the Biblical and archaeological evidence

The Large Stone Structure is identified as King David’s Palace by its excavator, Eilat Mazar, as well as by author Nadav Na’aman

In the study of Biblical archaeology, Biblical texts and archaeological finds must be examined critically and independently, but ultimately, they must be interpreted together. Such an approach can be applied to King David’s Palace and the Millo, as explored in “The Interchange Between Bible and Archaeology: The Case of David’s Palace and the Millo” by Nadav Na’aman in the January/February 2014 issue of BAR.

Two major monuments lie south of the Temple Mount in the City of David: the Large Stone Structure and Stepped Stone Structure. Building on previous suggestions, Nadav Na’aman uses textual and archaeological evidence to identify these monuments as, respectively, the remains of King David’s palace* and the Millo.

The Large Stone Structure, located on a rocky spur in the City of David, is a large public building comprised of impressive ashlar blocks. Its excavator, Eilat Mazar, dates the building to the 11th–10th centuries B.C.E. That King David’s palace is prominent and prominently located is referenced in the Book of Samuel (2 Samuel 5:11; 2 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 16:22). When Nehemiah returned from Babylonian exile half a millennium after the reign of David, he repaired the city wall and organized a dedication procession. One group on the east side of the city was described as having gone “up the steps of the City of David, on the ascent to the wall, past the House of David, and up to the Water Gate on the east” (Nehemiah 12:37). Nadav Na’aman suggests that King David’s Palace must be found at the top of the city’s northeastern slope, just above the Stepped Stone Structure that would have provided an ascent to the summit on the east. The location, date and scale of the Large Stone Structure, Nadav Na’aman believes, matches the Biblical descriptions of King David’s Palace.

 


 
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After David conquered the Jebusite “stronghold of Zion,” he is said to have renamed the area the City of David and fortified it “from the Millo inward” (2 Samuel 5:7–9). The etymology of the Hebrew word “millo” may be derived from the verb ml’, to “fill up.” Nadav Na’aman suggests that the Stepped Stone Structure, which extends down the slope from the Large Stone Structure and is built of a fill of stones and earth, may be the Millo referenced in the Book of Samuel.

The Stepped Stone Structure sits on the eastern slope of the City of David. Could it be the Millo referenced in the Bible? Nadav Na’aman believes so.

Two bullae, or seal impressions, of Judahite officials were found in excavations near the Large Stone Structure. One bulla bears the name Gedaliah son of Pashhur, the other the name Jehucal son of Shelemiah son of Shobai. These two men are mentioned together as officials of King Zedekiah in the Bible (Jeremiah 37:3, 38:1). The discovery of these bullae near the Large Stone Structure suggests to Nadav Na’aman that this is where the two officials officiated and that this building was still in use in the early sixth century B.C.E.

The combination of Biblical and archaeological evidence offers intriguing—though still tentative—support for the identification of King David’s Palace and the Millo on the northeastern crest of the City of David.

BAS Library Members: Read the full article on King David’s Palace and the Millo by Nadav Na’aman in “The Interchange Between Bible and Archaeology: The Case of David’s Palace and the Millo” as it appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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Notes

* See Eilat Mazar, “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2006.

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12 Responses

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  1. E. says

    I think the Large Stone Structure is Late Hellenistic in date, but I also think it may well have been the site of King David’s Palace. The area of the LSS was thoroughly cleared sometime in the Late Hellenistic Period.

  2. David says

    As an aside question, what does the “C” or “common” mean in BCE? Why is 1 CE all of a sudden the “common” era? Why was 1 BCE “before the common era? What makes that date the start of the “common” era? I don’t get it.

  3. Gary says

    David:

    Before the Christian Era or Before the Common Era satisfies everyone. Before Christ is not generally used by scholars anymore, as the evidence points to a 3 to 2 B.C.E. (or remotely possible, 1 B.C.E.) birthdate for him. I am still working on that. Thank God for the internet, and all the sharing of research there! It would not be possible for one person to search all the documents available prior to the last few years.

    My research shows that Herod died between 1-10-1 B.C.E. and 4-8-1 B.C.E., not in 4 B.C.E. It is assumed (by me, and apparently others) that he retained a degree of control of the immediate area around Jerusalem while the maggots were crawling out of his anus, his penis was gangrenous, and he was suffering from kidney failure and begging everyone around him to kill him, and put him out of his misery. This is a weak ruler, whose kingdom was very vulnerable. So, he appointed his four sons to rule their tetrarchies before the end of 4 B.C.E., a few years before his death.

    By a Roman perspective, 1 B.C.E. was the last year that Herod reigned. You count the entire year as his. 1-1-1 C.E. was the first day / year the Hellenized peoples of Judea and Samaria would consider to be the first year of the tetrarchies. This could possibly be its actual origin, from lost documents or oral tradition, although the B.C. / A,D. dating was set later. One C.E. was the first post-Herod the Great year.

  4. David says

    So, The “common era” is now defined as starting with the “first post-Herod the Great year”. Why is THAT year and/or Herod so important as to define the following 2000 years as the “common era?”

  5. Nate says

    I had the opportunity to visit the City of David in October with Eli Shukron as our guide. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. Seeing these structures mentioned in the article, the Wall of Jebus, and the Wall of Salem was amazing.
    I know there is a lot of debate over the dating of these structures, but there are some infallible proofs that David’s palace once stood in the general vicinity; whether the current structures are remains of that palace has yet to be proven.
    Can’t wait to return, and re-visit some of the sites I was able fortunate enough to visit.

  6. Bob says

    Would have subscribed,, but BCE is Bull Caca Epitomized. It has less than nothing to do with scientific rigor and everything to do with removing Our Lord as the center of human history.

  7. Malcolm says

    I find this all very interesting. I’ve seen the City of David and, apparently, his palace and the Millo. Those who know more about it than I do make some amazing remarks. I will continue to be on the lookout for more.

  8. GARY says

    I agree with Bob!!!

  9. David says

    I also agree with Bob. BCE/CE makes NO sense on any level except to exclude Christ. And that’s really hard to do considering……THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. King David’s Palace and the Millo | the northampton seminar linked to this post on January 21, 2014

    [...] and is built of a fill of stones and earth, may be the Millo referenced in the Book of Samuel. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/king-davids-palace-and-the-… Share a link to this post: This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  2. King David's Palace and the Millo - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution linked to this post on January 21, 2014

    [...] evidence to identify these monuments as, respectively, the remains of King David’s palace* and the [...]

  3. King David’s Palace and the Millo | MakePhoto.org linked to this post on January 27, 2014

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