Israeli archaeologist claims to have found David's kingdom: colleagues deny

Maxim Karpenko

Israeli archaeologist claims to have found David's kingdom: colleagues deny
Israeli archaeologist claims to have found the kingdom of David

A new study claims to have revealed the borders and early phases of expansion of ancient Judah during the time of David and Solomon. This has prompted another round of heated debate about whether the kingdom of these biblical monarchs was fact or myth, Haaretz writes.

Professor Yossi Garfinkel argues that David controlled a relatively large area around his capital, protected by a ring of fortified border cities. His study attempts to challenge the more widely accepted paradigm that David and Solomon, even if they were historical figures, were local leaders who ruled over tiny Jerusalem and not much else.

Garfinkel's research was met with skepticism by many archaeological colleagues, who argued that his conclusions were based on assumptions and poorly interpreted data.

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He does not seek to fully confirm the biblical narrative that describes the United Monarchy of Israel stretching from Egypt to the Euphrates River (2 Samuel 8).

"Minimalists want to say that David ruled a small village and there was no kingdom, but I say there was a kingdom with fortified cities within a day's walk from Jerusalem. I'm not that big of a maximalist. I mean that David's kingdom included Jerusalem, Hebron, and several cities around them: this is the urban core of David's kingdom. I think that's realistic," Garfinkel said.

Archaeologist discovers kingdom of David in Israel. Source: Yossi Garfinkel

Nevertheless, Garfinkel admits that this tiny kingdom is far from the biblical descriptions of a regional empire.

Two leading researchers who agreed to discuss the study criticized Garfinkel's dating of the fortified cities and his assumptions.

"Determining the exact dating of ancient remains is notoriously difficult, as even scientific methods such as radiocarbon dating have a significant margin of error. Establishing a date on a structure often comes down to an archaeologist's subtle interpretation of the types of ceramics found around it, or determining which layer of an ancient site it belongs to," the experts noted.

Archaeologist discovers David's kingdom in Israel. Source: Yossi Garfinkel

As a reminder, an ancient pebble mosaic dating back to the 4th century BC was discovered in Turkey.

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