Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Hebrew University archaeologist discovers Jerusalem city wall from tenth century B.C.
Jerusalem, February 22, 2010 – A section of an ancient city wall of Jerusalem from the tenth century B.C.E. – possibly built by King Solomon -- has been revealed in archaeological excavations directed by Dr. Eilat Mazar and conducted under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The section of the city wall revealed, 70 meters long and six meters high, is located in the area known as the Ophel, between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount.
Uncovered in the city wall complex are: an inner gatehouse for access into the royal quarter of the city, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse, and a corner tower that overlooks a substantial section of the adjacent Kidron valley.
"The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence. Its strength and form of construction indicate a high level of engineering", Mazar said. The city wall is at the eastern end of the Ophel area in a high, strategic location atop the western slop of the Kidron valley.
"A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the First Temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C.E.," said Mazar
"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," she added. "The Bible tells us that Solomon built -- with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders -- the Temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David." Mazar specifically cites the third chapter of the First Books of Kings where it refers to "until he (Solomon) had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about."
"The jars that were found are the largest ever found in Jerusalem," said Mazar, adding that "the inscription that was found on one of them shows that it belonged to a government official, apparently the person responsible for overseeing the provision of baked goods to the royal court."
In addition to the pottery shards, cult figurines were also found in the area, as were seal impressions on jar handles with the word "to the king," testifying to their usage within the monarchy. Also found were seal impressions (bullae) with Hebrew names, also indicating the royal nature of the structure. Most of the tiny fragments uncovered came from intricate wet sifting done with the help of the salvaging Temple Mount Sifting Project, directed by Dr. Gabriel Barkai and Zachi Zweig, under the auspice of the Nature and Parks Authority and the Ir David Foundation.
full article at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's website