Another brick in the Wall of Solomon

Time and time again I read about how archeologists discover things which confirm "tales" from ancient authors or from Scripture, putting skeptics and scoffers in their lonely place.

I picked this up from The Sacred Page:

Archaeologist sees proof for Bible in ancient wall

  By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writer Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer   – Mon Feb 22, 8:07 pm ET

JERUSALEM – An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That’s a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible’s account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

While some Holy Land archaeologists support that version of history — including the archaeologist behind the dig, Eilat Mazar — others posit that David’s monarchy was largely mythical and that there was no strong government to speak of in that era.

Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find "the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel."

"It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction," she said.

Based on what she believes to be the age of the fortifications and their location, she suggested it was built by Solomon, David’s son, and mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard (70-meter) long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt, renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two important Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Archaeologists have excavated the fortifications in the past, first in the 1860s and most recently in the 1980s. But Mazar claimed her dig was the first complete excavation and the first to turn up strong evidence for the wall’s age: a large number of pottery shards, which archaeologists often use to figure out the age of findings.

Aren Maeir, an archaeology professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, said he has yet to see evidence that the fortifications are as old as Mazar claims. There are remains from the 10th century in Jerusalem, he said, but proof of a strong, centralized kingdom at that time remains "tenuous."

While some see the biblical account of the kingdom of David and Solomon as accurate and others reject it entirely, Maeir said the truth was likely somewhere in the middle.

"There’s a kernel of historicity in the story of the kingdom of David," he said.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Maltese says:

    To play the devil’s advocate, this also should be considered: *There are remains from the 10th century in Jerusalem, he said, but proof of a strong, centralized kingdom at that time remains “tenuous.”*

    Mind you, he said “proof,” not that there wasn’t a “strong, centralized kingdom” per se. I believe there was, and, in fact, I find biblical “Higher Criticism” in the German mold reprehensible: sometimes these critics have nothing better to do than to deconstruct with cynicism what has taken centuries or millenia of Judeo-Christian history to construct!

    But even so, I see a lot of new “discoveries” these days: this dating to the village and the time when Jesus was born, that dating to David!

    Come on! Give it time! Don’t let protestant fundamentalists in cahoots with Israeli archeologists hoodwink you into believing in something that shouldn’t be believed, at first glance, just because it “feels” right to believe in it! Test it! Look at the evidence! Too many ridicule us because we fall into the trap of believing too quickly those things which need time to be evaluated! Faith AND Reason!

  2. ghlad says:

    Man, if only we had a central, authoritative history of Judaism by which we could verify these archeological findings! Nuts!

  3. Jordanes says:

    It seems that archaeologists only give short shrift to the ancient recorded of history of Israel when interpreting archaeological findings. They never dismiss or take a hyper-skeptical eye toward the written history of Egypt or Babylon or Assyria or Elam or Persia or Mari or Ararat/Armenia when they interpret the archaeology of those lands. But when it comes to Israel, well, now we’ve got to take a “biblical minimalist” approach and only believe the written history found in the Old Testament if we find positive archaeological proof for it. When will the minimalists learn that you’ll always have more success if you exacavate with a spade in one hand and a Bible in the other, as the old saying goes?

  4. THREEHEARTS says:

    On the ‘net is a scan of the book Ancient Israel by Fr Roland de Vaux. I would recommend reading it. It really shows where our relationship is with the ancient transcendent faith of the Hebrews come from. The laws of inheritance are very important plus what the power of the keys
    meant to Hebrew Apostles.

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