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Large Stone Structure

Large Stone Structure

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The Large Stone Structure is the name given to the remains of a large public building in the City of David neighborhood of central Jerusalem, south of the Old City
Jerusalem's Old City walls
The Old City is a walled area within the modern city of Jerusalem. Until 1860, when the Jewish neighborhood, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, was established, this area constituted the entire city of Jerusalem...

, tentatively dated to 10th to 9th century BCE. The name was given to the structure, as a result of its proximity with another site known as the Stepped Stone Structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

, by the discoverer of the site, Eilat Mazar
Eilat Mazar
Eilat Mazar is a third-generation Israeli archaeologist, specializing in Jerusalem and Phoenician archeology. A senior fellow at the Shalem Center, she has worked on the Temple Mount excavations, as well as excavations at Achzib. In addition to heading the Shalem Center's Institute of Archeology,...

. Mazar, an Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i archaeologist, announced the discovery on 4 August 2005, and stated that she believed it may be the remains of King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

's palace as recorded in the Books of Samuel
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...

. The archaeological dig was funded privately by Roger Hertog
Roger Hertog
Roger Hertog is an American businessman, financier and conservative philanthropist. Born and raised in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, Hertog pursued a career in business....

, an American banker.

Discovery


In 1997, Eilat Mazar, seeking to find the Palace of David, used a reference in the Books of Samuel
Books of Samuel
The Books of Samuel in the Jewish bible are part of the Former Prophets, , a theological history of the Israelites affirming and explaining the Torah under the guidance of the prophets.Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by...

 that refers to David going down to the stronghold after having been anointed
Anointing
To anoint is to pour or smear with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit, power or God...

 (2 Samuel 5:17), to estimate where the site might be. Since the only area of higher elevation than Ophel
Ophel
The City of David is the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. It is a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to tradition, it is the place where King...

, the oldest part of Jerusalem, is just to its north, she started digging there in February 2005. About 2 meters underneath the surface she discovered 4th to 6th century AD Byzantine Era
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 artifacts including a well preserved mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

 floor. Beneath these she found artifacts from the Second Temple Period
Second Temple period
The Second Temple period , in Jewish history, is the period between 530 BCE and 70 CE, when the Second Temple of Jerusalem existed. It ended with the First Jewish–Roman War and the Temple's destruction....

, and finally underneath these she found large foundations of a substantial structure, which she claims to have been the Palace of David.

The first of two notable written finds at the site is a bulla
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

 (seal) of a government official named Jehucal
Jehucal
Jehucal or Jucal [heb. יְהוּכַל] is mentioned in chapters 37 and 38 of the Book of Jeremiah:King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah, saying `Please pray for us to the Lord our God`...

, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi. This person seems to be mentioned (twice) in the Book of Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

 and thus presumably lived in the late 7th century BC
7th century BC
The 7th century BC started the first day of 700 BC and ended the last day of 601 BC.The Assyrian Empire continued to dominate the Near East during this century, exercising formidable power over neighbors like Babylon and Egypt. In the last two decades of the century, however, the empire began to...

 or early sixth century BC (i.e. at about the same time as Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

). The second bulla discovered at this site is that of another government official, Gedaliah, son of Pashhur, of that same time period, who also seems to be named in the Book of Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the book of Isaiah and preceding Ezekiel and the Book of the Twelve....

.

As of 2005 the dig was ongoing, with progress limited by the current occupants of the land atop the ruins. According to the New York Times,
Mazar continues to dig, but right now, three families are living in houses where she would most like to explore. One family is Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, one Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and one Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

.


By February 2007 the second phase of the dig, which took place on a plot adjacent to the first phase, had revealed that the building was larger than Dr. Mazar had previously thought, included walls that are up to 7 meters thick, and showed that parts of the building relate to the famous "stepped stone structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

" discovered and excavated in the 1920s-80s.

Artifacts


Artifacts found within the large Stone Structure that support a possible tenth century date include imported luxury goods, including two Phoenician-style ivory inlays once attached to iron objects. Comparable objects found in a Phoenician tomb at Achziv suggest that they may have decorated a sword handle. A quantity of luxury round, carinated bowls with red slip and hand burnishing support both the tenth century date and a sophisticated, urban lifestyle. A bone has been radiocarbon dated by Elisabetta Boaretto at the Weizmann Institute, showing a probability date between 1050 and 780 BCE. A large section of a "delicate and elegant" Black-on-red jug, also found in the structure, is of a kind dated to the second half of the tenth century.

Stepped Stone Structure


The Stepped Stone Structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

 is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site (sometimes termed Area G) on the eastern side of the City of David. It is a curved, 60 ft high, narrow stone structure is built as a series of terraces (hence the name). It was uncovered during a series of excavations by R.A.S. Macalister in the 1920s, Kathleen Kenyon
Kathleen Kenyon
Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon , was a leading archaeologist of Neolithic culture in the Fertile Crescent. She is best known for her excavations in Jericho in 1952-1958.-Early life:...

 in the 1960s, and Yigal Shiloh in the 1970s-80s. Kathleen Kenyon dated the structure to the start of Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 II (1000-900 BC); Macalister believed it to be Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

. Macalister, the first to excavate the structure, called the remains he had found a ramp; other scholars, after the more recent discoveries by Kenyon and Shiloh, have suggested that it might be a retaining wall, or a fortress. Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel...

 et al. suggest that the upper part of the structure was substantially rebuilt in the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 period.

Mazar's dig has demonstrated that the Stepped Stone Structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

  connects with and supports the Large Stone Structure. Mazar presents evidence that the Large Stone Structure was an Israelite royal palace in continuous use from the tenth century until 586 BCE. Her conclusion that the stepped stone structure and the large stone structure are parts of a single, massive royal palace makes sense of the biblical reference to the Millo
Millo
The Millo was a structure in Jerusalem mentioned by the Books of Kings, and corresponding passages in the Books of Chronicles. The texts simply describe the Millo as having been built by Solomon and repaired by Hezekiah,, without giving an explanation of what exactly the Millo was...

 as the House of Millo in II Kings 12:21 and II Chronicles 24:25, describing it as the place where King Joash was assassinated in 799 BCE while he slept in his bed. Millo is derived from "fill", (Hebrew milui). The stepped stone support structure is built of fills.

The Millo is described in the Bible as having been built by Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 and repaired by Hezekiah
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

, without giving an explanation of what exactly the Millo was. However it is mentioned as being part of the City of David. In the Book of Samuel, Millo is mentioned as boundary of King David's construction while building up the City of David after the capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites. The King James Version (translation into English) footnotes Millo as literally, "The Landfill," while the New International Version translates it to "supporting terraces"

Hezekiah's repair of the Millo is mentioned within a list of repairs to military fortifications, and several scholars generally believe that it was something connected to military activity, such as a tower
Tower
A tower is a tall structure, usually taller than it is wide, often by a significant margin. Towers are distinguished from masts by their lack of guy-wires....

, citadel
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

, or simply a significant part of a wall. However, taking into account that the potentially cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 term mulu, from Assyrian, refers to earthworks, it is considered more likely that it was an embankment which flattened the slope between Ophel
Ophel
The City of David is the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. It is a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to tradition, it is the place where King...

 and the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

.

Interpretation


The dig was sponsored by the Shalem Center
Shalem Center
The Shalem Center is a Jerusalem research institute that supports academic work in the fields of philosophy, political theory, Jewish and Zionist history, Bible and Talmud, Middle East Studies, archaeology, economics, and strategic studies...

, a foundation that was established in 1994 to promote Zionism and free market economics in Israel. Eilat Mazar is a senior fellow at the foundation.

As of 2007, archaeologists not affiliated with the Shalem Center, particularly the group centered on Tel Aviv University, of which Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel...

 is the leader, doubted that enough evidence had yet been produced to reliably date the structure. The Tel Aviv University group also suggested that the walls unearthed by Mazar do not belong to a single building, arguing that the more substantial, more regular walls to the west of the site align with a larger rectangular structure, including upper parts of the Stepped Stone Structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

, and a mikveh ritual bath believed to have been used in the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 period; while what they consider the flimsier irregular remains on the eastern side of the site should be treated as a separate entity. In 2005 Amihai Mazar
Amihai Mazar
Amihai "Ami" Mazar is an Israeli archaeologist. Born in Haifa, Israel , he is currently Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, holding the Eleazer Sukenik Chair in the Archaeology of Israel.Mazar has directed archaeological excavations at a number of...

 suggested that the site may be a Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

 fortress - the fortress of Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

that the Books of Samuel claim was conquered by David.

Eilat Mazar dated the site by the different types of pottery found above and below the building's remains. The pottery below the foundation is dated by Eilat Mazar to the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 I, and the pottery above is dated to the Iron Age II. Due to the Law of superposition
Law of superposition
The law of superposition is a key axiom based on observations of natural history that is a foundational principle of sedimentary stratigraphy and so of other geology dependent natural sciences:...

 (the empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 rule stating that, in general, the older things are lower down), this implies, according to Eilat Mazar, that the foundation - and hence the building - was constructed somewhere between Iron Age I and Iron Age II (roughly between the 11th and 10th centuries BC). However, Amihai Mazar has pointed out that though the structure clearly dates to after Iron Age I, since there is no floor and the Iron Age II pottery merely occurs between the walls, her terminus-ante-quem is flawed - the pottery gives no way of knowing how much later than Iron Age I the building was constructed (since the building could have been built around pre-existing Iron Age II pottery). Israel Finkelstein has also argued that (Eilat) Mazar's pottery dating is flawed (and motivated by the conclusion she desires), concluding that "all one can safely say is that its various elements post-date
the late Iron I/early Iron IIA and predate the Roman period. Circumstantial evidence seems to suggest the dating of most elements to the late Hellenistic period".

Finkelstein et al. underline their concern about Mazar's attitude and approach:

The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar’s literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence.


Mazar makes the following arguments for an Israelite royal palace from the early tenth century: 1) That enormous scale of the structure and physical distinctions between it and other contemporary structures. 2) That it was erected outside the walls of the Jebusite city. 3) Pottery and pavements in the structure and dated to the 10th century 4) the fact that latest pottery found beneath the structure is a "sizable and richly varied" assemblage dated to the 12th - 11th centuries BCE. 5) both pottery types and radio carbon dating point to a date around the year 1000 6) potters in the attached Stepped Stone Structure
Stepped Stone Structure
The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

 also dates its construction to the 10th century 7) two Phoenician-style stylized ivory inlays and a black-and-red juglet imported form Cyprus attest to a Phoenician connections, a 10th century date, and a luxury lifestyle. 8) bullae with names of royal officials mentioned in the Bible attest to royal use continuing until 586 and "illustrate" the reliability of Biblical sources.

Archaeological support for Mazar's dating and attribution to a 10th-century Israelite king may have increased following finds at Khirbet Qeiyafa
Khirbet Qeiyafa
Khirbet Qeiyafa is the site of an ancient city overlooking the Elah Valley. The ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007, near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 20 miles from Jerusalem. It covers nearly six acres and is encircled by a 700-meter long city wall constructed of stones weighing...

, viewed by some archaeologists and paleographers as confirming the existence of a centralized and powerful Israelite kingdom in the early 10th century. According to an article by Hershel Shanks in the Biblical Archaeology Review
Biblical Archaeology Review
Biblical Archaeology Review is a publication that seeks to connect the academic study of archaeology to a broad general audience seeking to understand the world of the Bible and the Near and Middle East . Covering both the Old and New Testaments, BAR presents the latest discoveries and...

, the findings refute Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein
Israel Finkelstein is an Israeli archaeologist and academic. He is currently the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel...

's assertion that at most the Hebrew population that existed in Jerusalem in that era was a "tribal chiefdom". In the article, Shanks contends that an Israelite fortress of this scale establishes the existence of a strong, centralized Israelite kingdom at the time of David. On the other hand, Finkelstein contests the averaging procedure used in the Khirbet Qeiyafa dating, maintaining that, taken properly, the data reflect a lifespan for that site rather than a single date, and that the Khirbet Qeiyafa results "line up with the large number of measurements from late Iron I sites in both the north and south of Israel and support the Low Chronology."

See also

  • Stepped Stone Structure
    Stepped Stone Structure
    The Stepped Stone Structure is the name given to the remains at a particular archaeological site on the eastern side of the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem. The curved, 60ft high, narrow stone structure is built over a series of terraces...

  • Archaeology of Israel
    Archaeology of Israel
    The archaeology of Israel is the study of the archaeology of Israel, stretching from prehistory through three millennia of documented history. The ancient Land of Israel was a geographical bridge between the political and cultural centers of Mesopotamia and Egypt...

  • Biblical archaeology
    Biblical archaeology
    For the movement associated with William F. Albright and also known as biblical archaeology, see Biblical archaeology school. For the interpretation of biblical archaeology in relation to biblical historicity, see The Bible and history....

  • 2005 in archaeology
    2005 in archaeology
    The year 2005 in archaeology involved some significant events.-Publications:* Mark P. Leone - The Archaeology of Liberty in an American Capital: Excavations in Annapolis.* Adrienne Mayor - Fossil Legends of the First Americans....