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


Jerusalem lies at the heart of Biblical archaeology. In the free eBook Jerusalem Archaeology: Exposing the Biblical City, learn about the latest finds in the Biblical world’s most vibrant city.

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.


17 Responses

  1. Gene R 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. spring&p=par#h=5

  2. 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.

  3. The Top Ten Biblical Archaeology Discoveries of 2014 | Restoring Liberty says:

    […] Canaanite Fortress Discovered in the City of David An 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 later conquered. […]

  4. Brian says:

    You’re all missing the obvious. Repeatedly and throughout the Bible God makes reference to His unique and special real estate. What is God’s holy mountain? Zion. What was it called? City of David. What was there? The TEMPLE! The Gihon Spring was integral to Temple worship and function. As the article rightly references 1 Kings 1:32-34, David passed the throne to Solomon and sent him to the priest to be anointed. Where did he send him? To Gihon. Who was there? Zadok the priest. Where does a priest perform his duties? At the Temple. What did he anoint him with? Oil from the Temple. Folks, the true location of the Temple is under their very noses. It is NOT part of the western wall which is where the Antonia Fortress would have been. Early pilgrims to the region merely assumed it was the temple location out of their own zeal and ignorance (tradition has a way of deceiving intellect). For those of you who are Christian, and therefore must believe the words of Jesus, if He said “not one stone shall be left upon another,” then He’s either a liar or Jews are praying in the wrong location.

  5. Elizabeth Cohen says:

    @John what you said is incorrect. They have found a small stone carved that said “we have conquered the house of David” If the story of David was not true they would not have found the stone.

  6. The ‘Spring Citadel’: the beginning and end of David’s kingship « says:

    […] Canaanite Fortress discovered in the City of David: Biblical Archaeology Society […]

  7. David R Lowden says:

    Very interesting. It fits with what I saw in Israel last month in sites like Tel Megiddo – the layering of historic artifacts. At Megiddo it was the spring (among other things like strategic location) as well that was the draw for generations to layer the Tel with their record. Actually it seems every site has layering of some sort – even the Holy Christian sites dedicated to be “the spot” that something happened have a church layer over them now – often several church layers. Thanks for the article, information and updates!

  8. Mark says:

    To all those who point out the obvious, that 3800 years ago is 800 years before David… you are thinking like Americans! Here in Europe there are lots of buildings still in use that are 800 years old. Unless destroyed by war or earthquake, a building of that nature would have been in use for many hundreds of years. Here we tell a joke that for Europeans 100 miles is a long distance while for Americans 100 years is a long time! We have to wait until the archaeologists give a date for destruction.

  9. Greg says:

    Read the article. It doesn’t say David was around in 1800 B.C. It says the fortress was, which aligns with the biblical account of Melchizedek (as I think someone already pointed out). Don’t be so quick to poopoo the evidence until you’ve actually read what the person wrote.

  10. Links & Quotes | Craig T. Owens says:

    […] More archeological finds in Israel confirm the historicity of the Bible: Canaanite Fortress Discovered. […]

  11. Paul Ballotta says:

    This fortress gives creedence to the apearance of Melchizedek, king of Salem ,after a battle in Genesis 14:18, since we know of archaeological evidence of a battle taking place arouind the Gihon Spring in the 18th century B.C.E.

  12. Shiling Thiej says:

    Interesting ‘coz nothing can hide God’s Mighty Work, nor Hus awesome Presence in History ‘ coz its HIS -STORY.

    Keep it up…stay bless.

  13. alex donnett says:

    these live feeds of new discoveries keep me on edge like some sort of suspenseful movie THANKS.

  14. Karyn says:

    18th century B.CE. That doesn’t match up time with the story of David. 3800 years ago is long before David, even before Moses: about the time of Abraham.

  15. Luis Antonio de Patricio says:

    It seems that is was more than 800 years old when David conquered it.

  16. johng194 says:

    Since there is no extra-Biblical evidence for David or Solomon (except for Dan, if you’re a believer) I suppose they can be placed anywhere needed in time, but 1800BCE seems awfully early for David.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend