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. Photo: Eilat Mazar.

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, 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.

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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

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


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  • James says

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

  • 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.

  • Kurt says

    “God’s Wisdom in a Sacred Secret”
    SECRETS! Because they intrigue, fascinate, and mystify, humans often have difficulty keeping them confidential. However, the Bible says: “The glory of God is the keeping of a matter secret.” (Proverbs 25:2) Yes, as Sovereign Ruler and Creator, Jehovah rightfully keeps some things secret from mankind until it is his due time to reveal them.

    However, there is a fascinating, intriguing secret that Jehovah has revealed in his Word. It is called “the sacred secret of [God’s] will.” (Ephesians 1:9) Learning about it can do more than satisfy your curiosity. Knowledge of this secret can lead to salvation and can provide you with a glimpse into Jehovah’s unfathomable wisdom.Read more:

  • DENNIS 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!).

  • 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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