This open-air dig site comes with the territory and your City of David ticket. Archaeologists have dug up bits of the city for well over a century—notably Charles Warren in the 1860s and Kathleen Kenyon a hundred years later. Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shiloh, however, led the most thorough expedition from 1978 to 1985. In this locale, he confirmed Kenyon's assertion that the angular pieces of the city wall, seen at the top, were indeed part of the 2nd-century BC construction that the historian Flavius Josephus dubbed the "First Wall." On the other hand, he redated the sloping "stepped structure" to at least the 10th century BC, the time of Israelite kings David and Solomon, when it apparently supported a palace or fortification on the crest of the ridge. In the 7th century BC, a house (now partially restored on a platform) was built against it.
The most intriguing artifacts found were 51 bullae, clay seals used for documents, just as hot wax might be used today, with personal
names impressed on them in ancient Hebrew script. All the seals were found in one chamber, suggesting that it was used as an archive or a royal office. This idea was reinforced by the biblical name on one of the seals: Gemariah ben Shafan, the royal secretary in the days of the prophet Jeremiah. The clay seals were baked into pottery by a massive fire, apparently during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
Off Ophel Rd., Jerusalem, 97400, Israel
02-626–8700; /*6033-toll-free in Israel
Apr 9, 2009
For those interested in archaeology, this is a treasure trove. Dr. Eilat Mazar has done an excellent job in documenting the recent work in this area. There is a good chance that during a spring or summer visit that excavations will be in operation and students/workers might see busy washing pottery. The cost might seem a bit pricy, but for the archaeological enthusiast or biblical historian, this stop is a must. A seal for the Temech family has
be recovered from this area also. Perhaps future excavations will validate David's palace in the Old City?