Tags: Israel | archaeology | king david | jerusalem | history

Archaeological Site Near Jerusalem Stirs Debate

the city of jerusalem is seen through a building's window in the shape of the star of david
(Oded Balilty/AP)

By    |   Monday, 08 July 2019 10:30 PM

One archaeological team's claim to have found the 3,000-year-old biblical town of Ziklag south of Jerusalem has sparked a debate about the site of King David's city of refuge, the Times of Israel reported.

The team headed by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel excavated 43 miles outside of Jerusalem in the Judaean foothills at the Khirbet a-Ra'i site, saying it found evidence it was the lost town where the Bible says David was given shelter by Philistine King Achish, the news outlet reported.

But Bar Ilan University Prof. Aren Maeir, director of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project for the past 23 years, is adamant it is not.

"This suggestion of Yossi Garfinkel is so unacceptable, it's unbelievable," Maeir said. "There is simply no basis for this. I don't know how he got to it."

"If you're going to go for a specific site, you should at least place it in the geographical context," said Maeir, who said, in most cases in the Bible, Ziklag appears to lie further in the south.

In an email to The Times of Israel, Tel Aviv University professor Israel Finkelstein also discounted the identification of Ziklag at the Khirbet a-Ra'i site.

"Identification of places mentioned in historical texts, including the Bible, with a given archaeological site is done according to three criteria: the geographical context in which the place is mentioned in the text, chronological match between the period of the text or the period portrayed in the text and the finds at the site and, when possible, preservation of the ancient name in the modern (usually Arabic) one," wrote Finkelstein.

"In the case of biblical Ziklag, the name is not preserved."

But Garfinkel told the Times of Israel his team was prepared for blowback on their announced identification.

"There are those who debate whether King David was a legend of a historical figure," Garfkinkel said.

"Was he a king of a kingdom, or a Bedouin king of Jerusalem. At Qeiyafa, I saw there was a kingdom, and this site is another Davidic settlement," he said.

For volunteers at the site, the controversy does not register.

"This is almost sacred ground because someone has actually lived here, walked the ground. And we're walking the ground again. It's a privilege," Australian volunteer at the Khirbet a-Ra'i site told the news outlet.

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A debate about the site of King David's city of refuge has been sparked by one archaeological team's claim to have found the 3,000-year-old biblical town of Ziklag south of Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel.
archaeology, king david, jerusalem, history
Monday, 08 July 2019 10:30 PM
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