BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Proto-Aeolic Capital Kept Quiet—But Why?

Bible and archaeology news

Jaunary 2014 update: Read the extended Bible History Daily feature Proto-Aeolic Capital Associated with Judah’s Longest Spring Tunnel. The article includes a description of the proto-aeolic capital, a discussion about the typology and an investigation into the associated First Temple period spring tunnel. Discover the incredible archaeological remains behind this controversial site.


Archaeologist Binyamin Tropper recently discovered a proto-aeolic capital still attached to its column in a cave south of Jerusalem. While the discovery and its surrounding structure could provide invaluable insights into the Israelite monarchy in the First Temple period—perhaps as early as the much-debated period of David and Solomon—it turns out that Tropper and Kfar Etzion field school director Yaron Rosenthal were not the first to come across the proto-aeolic capital.

Binyamin Tropper examines the proto-aeolic capital in a photo published in the Israeli paper Makor Rishon. Photo: Makor Rishon, Yossi Aloni

According to the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon (first printed in English by The Jewish Press), when Rosental shared the discovery with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), he received a surprising response: “Yaron, please, you found it, but we know about it. Now forget the whole thing and keep your mouth shut.”

This beautiful capital, carved in proto-Aeolic style, was discovered by Kathleen Kenyon near a building that may be David’s palace and was likely once a part of that building. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority.

Apparently the IAA has known about the proto-aeolic capital and column for 18 months, but has intentionally kept it quiet. The question is: why?

Proto-Aeolic (also called proto-Ionic) capitals are characteristic elements of First Temple period (1000 B.C.–586 B.C) public architecture. The proto-aeolic capital type has been found at major First Temple period sites, including Dan, Hazor, Megiddo, Jerusalem and Ramat Rachel.

The recent discovery, which consists of a proto-aeolic capital and column carved out of a single piece of stone, stands out amongst the broader collection, which is comprised of capitals detached from their original column perches. The capitals are rectangular stone slabs incised with spiraling volutes, resembling Tree of Life motifs and Classical Greek Ionic capitals.

The quality of the newly-discovered capital suggests that it was used in a royal structure, one that Rosenthal claims was untouched by secondary building use. This stunning structure has the potential to shed light on many remaining questions on Israelite kingship—if archaeologists are allowed to investigate the site.

Read more.


In our free eBook Ten Top Biblical Archaeology Discoveries, learn the fascinating stories and insights gained from artifacts and ruins, like the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem, where the Gospel of John says Jesus miraculously restored the sight of the blind man, and the Tel Dan inscription—the first historical evidence of King David outside the Bible.


In the article “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” Eilat Mazar writes: “I confirmed that ashlar stones and an elegant proto-Aeolic capital had been found literally at the foot of the scarp at the southeastern edge of the structure in Area H. And this was just the kind of impressive remains that one would expect to come from a tenth-century B.C.E. king’s palace.”

Read the full article in Bible History Daily as it appeared in BAR.

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6 Responses

  1. Proto-Aeolic Capital Associated with Judah’s Longest Spring Tunnel - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution says:

    […] has been a lot of talk recently about a “covered up” proto-aeolic capital. I’ll admit: I indulged in a bit of this myself last April. Last week, the conversation was reopened when Arutz-7 reported that the location of the […]

  2. slavomir says:

    here is a link to the survey conducted there by the archaeologist who found it a couple of years ago:
    http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail_eng.asp?id=2275&mag_id=120

  3. Antiquities Authority Hushing-Up First-Temple Find | The Power of the Land says:

    […] outed the story on the 19th of April. The Jewish Press ran an English article that day, and the Biblical Archaeology Review published it on April […]

  4. Outremer says:

    Look, it’s very clear what’s going on here: The site obviously lies within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in either Area A or Area B (remember Oslo?), and no Israeli entity has any legal right to excavate there. Only the Palestinian Authority does. If it were in Area C, the IDF’s Staff Officer for Archaeology would go after it (even though that’s also illegal under international law). Some people should just “get over it”, in my opinion.

    This story is “funny” in several ways: How on earth can a monumental structure lie inside a cave?? — it makes no sense. Or are the source stories poorly translated into English? Certainly, the Jewish Press article contains questionable terminology: there are no such entities as “Bethlehem County” or “South Jerusalem” — they don’t exist. And, they turn ancient Israel into a “Jewish empire” — good grief. Also, their interpretation of this find goes way too far, going straight to “David and Solomon”, when Iron Age 2/ First Temple is the more accurate context. Added to such egregious faults, JP’s alarmist, ultra-nationalist tone makes it totally unworthy of a link from the BAS site.

  5. offbeatonpurpose says:

    Interesting scroll design. Does the capital design match Moses’ description of Temple columns? Perhaps the Greeks adopted design from Hebrews instead of vice versa.

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6 Responses

  1. Proto-Aeolic Capital Associated with Judah’s Longest Spring Tunnel - Creation RevolutionCreation Revolution says:

    […] has been a lot of talk recently about a “covered up” proto-aeolic capital. I’ll admit: I indulged in a bit of this myself last April. Last week, the conversation was reopened when Arutz-7 reported that the location of the […]

  2. slavomir says:

    here is a link to the survey conducted there by the archaeologist who found it a couple of years ago:
    http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail_eng.asp?id=2275&mag_id=120

  3. Antiquities Authority Hushing-Up First-Temple Find | The Power of the Land says:

    […] outed the story on the 19th of April. The Jewish Press ran an English article that day, and the Biblical Archaeology Review published it on April […]

  4. Outremer says:

    Look, it’s very clear what’s going on here: The site obviously lies within the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in either Area A or Area B (remember Oslo?), and no Israeli entity has any legal right to excavate there. Only the Palestinian Authority does. If it were in Area C, the IDF’s Staff Officer for Archaeology would go after it (even though that’s also illegal under international law). Some people should just “get over it”, in my opinion.

    This story is “funny” in several ways: How on earth can a monumental structure lie inside a cave?? — it makes no sense. Or are the source stories poorly translated into English? Certainly, the Jewish Press article contains questionable terminology: there are no such entities as “Bethlehem County” or “South Jerusalem” — they don’t exist. And, they turn ancient Israel into a “Jewish empire” — good grief. Also, their interpretation of this find goes way too far, going straight to “David and Solomon”, when Iron Age 2/ First Temple is the more accurate context. Added to such egregious faults, JP’s alarmist, ultra-nationalist tone makes it totally unworthy of a link from the BAS site.

  5. offbeatonpurpose says:

    Interesting scroll design. Does the capital design match Moses’ description of Temple columns? Perhaps the Greeks adopted design from Hebrews instead of vice versa.

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