Ancient city walls around the City of David

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The ancient city walls around of the City of David refer to what archaeologist Eilat Mazar believes are the remains of the fortifications that once encompassed the city. The remains were re-excavated near a natural ridge to the north of the City of David in 2010 by Eilat Mazar, who believes them to date to the late 10th century BCE. They are located between areas commonly known as the Ophel to the north and the City of David to the south.

Biblical reference[edit]

According to 1 Kings 3:1, King Solomon built "the wall of Jerusalem round about." (New Revised Standard Version).

The dig[edit]

The dig is a joint project of Hebrew University, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the East Jerusalem Development Company, with funding provided by Jewish American couple, Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman.[1][2][3]

Dating of wall[edit]

Although consensus on the dating of the wall has not been reached by the archaeological community, Mazar maintains that, "It's the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel," and "It means that at that time, the 10th century (BCE), in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction." The 10th century is the period the Bible describes as the reign of King Solomon.[1] Claiming that broken pottery in the "royal structure" enabled the team to date the building. One storage jar bears an inscription in Hebrew. Mazar told the Jerusalem Post that "The jars that were found are the largest ever found in Jerusalem," and "the inscription 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." [1]

Aren Maeir, an archeology professor at Bar Ilan University said he has yet to see evidence that the fortifications are as old as Mazar claims. Whilst acknowledging that 10th century remains have been found in Jerusalem, he describes proof of a strong, centralized kingdom at that time as "tenuous".[1]

Structural features[edit]

A section of wall 79 metres (259 ft) long and 6 metres (20 ft) high has been uncovered. The discoveries include an inner gatehouse, a "royal structure" and a corner tower with a base measuring 23 metres (75 ft) by 18 metres (59 ft) from which watchmen could keep watch on the Kidron Valley. According to Mazar, the built structures are similar to the First Temple era fortifications of Megiddo, Beersheba and Ashdod. Mazar told reporters that "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 her to "postulate, with a great degree of assurance" that the wall dates form the late 10th-century BCE.[1]

Mazar told reporters that "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 BCE." [1]

Previous excavations[edit]

The wall has been excavated twice before, once in the 1860s and again in the 1980s. Ms Mazar claimed her dig was the first complete excavation, as well as the first to turn up strong evidence for the wall's age.[4] In 1867 Charles Warren conducted an underground survey in the area, describing the outline of a large tower but without attributing it to the era of Solomon.[5]

Criticism of approach[edit]

However, Israel Finkelstein and other archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have flagged concern that, with reference to her 2006 dating of the "Solomonic city wall" in the area to the south of the Temple Mount known as the "Ophel",

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.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Selig, Abe (February 23, 2010). "J'lem city wall dates back to King Solomon". The Jerusalem Post. 
  2. ^ Weddings: Meredith Berkman, Daniel Mintz. New York Times, 3 November 1996. [1]
  3. ^ Archaeologist says newly found Jerusalem wall confirms biblical story of Solomon, Nir Hasson, Haaretz, Feb. 32, 2010 [2]
  4. ^ "Archaeologist discovers 'significant' part of Jerusalem city wall from 10th century BC". Mail Online. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Archaeologist discovers Jerusalem city wall from tenth century B.C.E." ScienceDaily. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Israel Finkelstein, Ze'ev Herzog, Lily Singer-Avitz and David Ussishkin (2007), Has King David's Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?, Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, 34(2), 142-164