Canaanite Fortress Discovered in the City of David

Bible and archaeology news

Spring Citadel

A massive 3,800-year-old fortress that protected the Gihon Spring was uncovered in the City of David. Photo: Eli Mandelbaum, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Excavations around the Gihon Spring in the City of David uncovered a massive 3,800-year-old fortress. Called the “Spring Citadel” by archaeologists, the discovery was part of a 19-year excavation led by Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

This enormous 18th-century B.C.E. structure that isolates and protects the Gihon Spring is believed to be the fortress described in the Book of Samuel that King David conquered:

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, even the blind and the lame will turn you back”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.” Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, which is now the city of David.
2 Samuel 5:6–7


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The Gihon Spring was also the site where King Solomon was crowned, according to the Book of Kings:

King David said, “Summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, the king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. There let the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king over Israel; then blow the trumpet, and say, “Long live King Solomon!”
1 Kings 1:32–34

According to Oriya Dasberg, director of development in the City of David, “The Spring Citadel was built in order to save and protect the water of the city from enemies coming to conquer it, as well as to protect the people going down to the spring to get water and bring it back up to the city.”

With 23-foot-thick walls comprised of stone blocks up to ten feet wide, the Spring Citadel represents the largest Canaanite fortress discovered thus far in Israel.

Read more about the Canaanite fortress uncovered at the Gihon Spring.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in April 7, 2014.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Hezekiah’s Tunnel Reexamined

For Rent or Buy: Apartments with a Canaanite Fortress in the Basement

The Seleucid Akra: 2,200-Year-Old Jerusalem Fortress Uncovered?

Excavating the City of David is the definitive book on the City of David—the oldest part of Jerusalem—by City of David excavator Ronny Reich. Learn about the Siloam Tunnel, Warren’s Shaft system, Siloam Inscription, Theodotos Inscription and Pool of Siloam in this must-read publication.


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  • GENE says

    The spring of Gihon is generally believed to have been involved in the method employed by General Joab in penetrating the nearly impregnable Jebusite stronghold at Jerusalem, making possible its capture by David. (1Ch 11:6) Although the translation of the Hebrew text at 2 Samuel 5:8 presents certain problems, the usual rendering indicates the presence of a “water tunnel,” referred to by David when promoting the attack on the city. In 1867 C.E., Charles Warren discovered a water channel running back from the cave in which the spring of Gihon rises and, after a distance of some 20 m (66 ft), ending in a pool or reservoir. A vertical shaft in the rock above this pool extended upward 11 m (36 ft), and at the top of the shaft there was a place where persons could stand and let down containers by rope to draw water from the pool below. A sloping passageway led back nearly 39 m (128 ft) from the shaft up into the interior of the city. By this means it is believed that the Jebusites maintained access to their water source even when unable to venture outside the city walls because of enemy attack. Although the spring of Gihon is not directly mentioned in the account, it is suggested that Joab and his men daringly gained entrance to the city through this water tunnel.

  • SCharles says

    Solomon being the one who BUILT the temple, there is no way he could have been anointed at the temple, though he could have been anointed at the tabernacle. That being said, there is no question that the temple stood where the spring is located and not where so many believe it to have been.

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