Jerusalem Report: Solomonic Riddle -- By: Abraham Rabinovich

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 09:4 (Autumn 1980)
Article: Jerusalem Report: Solomonic Riddle
Author: Abraham Rabinovich

Jerusalem Report:
Solomonic Riddle

Abraham Rabinovich

A STRANGE, stepped structure unlike any other ever uncovered in a biblical city in Israel has emerged from the stony slopes of David’s City to raise intriguing speculations, one of them so outlandish that archaeologists hesitate to speak it.

Dr. Yigal Shiloh of Hebrew University pointed out the monumental structure, higher than a five-story building, during a press tour in August summing up the third season of excavations at David’s City which he heads.

Shiloh said the structure was unique in this country, both in its shape and its monumentality. He attributed it to the period of David and Solomon, making it the first structure of any significance from that golden age ever to be found inside the city walls of Jerusalem.

And what a structure! It was unearthed in part by Prof. R.A.S. Macalister, an Irish archaeologist who excavated in the area between 1923 and 1925. Referred to as a ramp or “glacis” (a sloping defense wall), the structure was identified by Macalister as part of the defense network of the Israelite city of David and Solomon, and its Jebusite predecessor.

During her digs in 1961–7, Kathleen Kenyon strongly refuted Macalister’s dating, attributing the defence system to the Second Temple period hundreds of years later. Kenyon’s argument was accepted by the archaeological community as a whole, including, as he testified at the press conference, Shiloh himself, the first archaeologist since Kenyon to dig in David’s City.

This summer, however, the Israeli came to a different conclusion after his team exposed another seven meters of the structure, making it 16 meters in height. The Shiloh team was able to pinpoint

the structure in a time “sandwich” created by Canaanite remains of the 13th Century B.C. found directly beneath the glacis and First Temple period houses, probably from the 10th Century B.C., found atop the bottom portion of the slope.

The glacis therefore could not have been built earlier than the 13th century, whose remains under-pinned it, nor later than the 10th century whose remains sat atop it. With this as a time range, it was logical to assume that the massive structure was constructed by the empire-building Israelites rather than their small-town Jebusite predecessors. And if Israelite, then most likely Solomonic, since he was the great builder, as the Bible tells us.

The structure is located in what is probably the area of the royal acropolis at the northern end of the City of David, where Solomon built palaces for himself and Pharaoh’s daughter ...

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