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King David's Palace Discovered, Archaeologists Say

Jul 19, 2013 04:25 PM EDT

Archaeologists have uncovered King David's palace, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Thursday.

David, a central figure of the Old Testatment, is believed to have ruled from 1010 BC to 970 BC. According to the Bible, David fought and killed the Philistine warrior Goliath -- an event that won the favor of Saul, the king at the time, and put him on track to becoming king himself.

The discovery was made at a site roughly 30 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem called Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city identified with the biblical city of Shaarayim, and was accompanied by the unearthing of a large storage structure as well.

Together, the two buildings stand as evidence of an existing central authority during the time period approximately 3,000 years ago.

"This is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom's existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points," the archaeologists, led by Yossi Garinkel of Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the IAA, stated in a press release. "To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century BCE as we can do now."

As an administrative site, it certainly would have been a strategic one, the researchers explain.

"From here one has an excellent vantage looking out into the distance, from as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east," they said. "This is an ideal location from which to send messages by means of fire signals.

Unfortunately, however, much of the palace was destroyed later when a fortified farmhouse was built there during the Byzantine period, the researchers note.

The southern part of the palace that extended across 1,000 square meters was found at the very top center of the city, with a 30 meter-long wall boasting an impressive entrance surrounding it. Found around the palace's perimeter were rooms with a variety of installations, including evidence of a metal industry in addition to pottery vessels and shards of alabaster vessels imported from Egypt.

The storage facility is a pillared building measuring 15 meters by 6 meters and is located in the northern section of the city.

In the end, the city was likely destroyed in one of the battles fought against the Philistines in 980 BC, the researchers said -- a hypothesis corroborated by the presence of hundreds of restorable pottery vessels, stone utensils and metal objects left on the floor of houses, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.

All in all, according to the researchers, the "palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah".

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