King David’s Palace and the Millo

Nadav Na’aman explores the Biblical and archaeological evidence

In the field 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 is identified as King David’s Palace by its excavator, Eilat Mazar, as well as by author Nadav Na’aman. Photo: Eilat Mazar.

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. Photo: Zev Radovan.

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.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Sign up today.

This Bible History Daily feature was originally published on January 17, 2014.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Did I Find King David’s Palace? by Eilat Mazar

The Interrupted Search for King David’s Palace

Jeremiah, Prophet of the Bible, Brought Back to Life
Clay bullae from the City of David provide new evidence for Biblical figures

The Tel Dan Inscription: The First Historical Evidence of King David from the Bible


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20 Responses

  1. James says:

    Wow so many experts I can’t help but wonder if any of them have ever read the holy scriptures.

  2. Jaybird says:

    Gary, There will come a time when everyone will confess that Yeshua is HaMashiac. It will be too late for many; i hope you’re not one of them.

  3. Kurt says:

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  4. Dennis B. Swaney says:

    Good Grief! There are SEVERAL calenders/dating systems in the world: Judaic, Moslem, Indian, Chinese, European, even one for these United States. Do to Christianity becoming the dominant religion in Europe and later European-colonized Americas, the calendar in GENERAL use by these areas became a defacto “universal” calendar. However, since there are billions of users who do not belong the Christianity, using the “Before Christ” and even more nonsensical LATIN “Anno Domini” (sp?) for NON-religious purposes was a problem. However, since the universal calendar is based on Dionysius Exiguus’ calculations, it was easier to come up with non-religious terms for SECULAR use rather then change calender systems. Since “common” is a synonym for “universal”, using “Common Era” as a sub for “AD” and “Before (the) Common Era” as a sub for “BC” makes common sense. Personally, I’d prefer that 2015 be referred to as the year 239 using the calendar of these United States, but I’ll accept the use of Dennis Little’s 2015 (at least he had the right first name!).

  5. Kurt says:

    A geographic or structural feature of ancient Jerusalem. (2Sa 5:9; 1Ki 9:15, 24; 11:27; 2Ki 12:20; 1Ch 11:8; 2Ch 32:5) At Judges 9:6, 20 the same Hebrew word translated “Mound” (mil·lohʼ′) is rendered “Millo.”—See MILLO.(Mil′lo) [from a root meaning “fill”].
    “The house of Millo” (“Beth-millo,” AT, JB, RS) may have been a fortress or citadel and was perhaps the same as “the tower of Shechem.” Apparently the men of “the house of Millo” shared in making Abimelech king. The prophetic words of Gideon’s son Jotham pointed to disaster for “the house of Millo” at the hands of Abimelech. This was fulfilled when Abimelech set the vault of the house of El-berith on fire and all those who had sought refuge there perished.—Jg 9:6, 20, 46-49.
    The exact nature of the Mound is today unknown. At 2 Kings 12:20 reference is made to “the house of the Mound,” which may indicate that it was a citadellike structure. As to its location, 2 Samuel 5:9 and 2 Chronicles 32:5 associate it with the City of David, indicating that it was either in or at the edge of the City of David.

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  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!

  10. gary says:

    I agree with Bob!!!

  11. Malcolm Cummings 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.

  12. 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.

  13. King David's Palace and the Millo - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution says:

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

  14. King David’s Palace and the Millo | the northampton seminar says:

    […] and is built of a fill of stones and earth, may be the Millo referenced in the Book of Samuel.… Share a link to this post: This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  15. 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.

  16. 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?”

  17. Gary Harper says:


    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.

  18. 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.

  19. E. Harding 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.

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