Tag Archives: City of David

Possible speaker’s podium found in City of David

The first headline I clicked on this morning when Haaretz arrived was the one reading “Second Temple-era Soapbox Found in City of David?” I located the IAA press release, and then a few hours later my inbox was loaded with links to various coverage of the find.

Several years ago the archaeologists working in the City of David uncovered a staircase and a drainage channel leading from the Temple Mount to the Pool of Siloam.

My group was one of the first to walk through the drainage channel in May, 2010. See my report and photos here.

Here is a photo of the steps leading from the Pool to the Temple Mount.

Steps leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Steps leading from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The discovery we report today was somewhere along those steps. The press release issued today by the Israel Antiquities Authority says,

This structure, situated alongside the 2,000 year old Second Temple stepped street, which carried pilgrims on their way from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple, which stood atop the Temple Mount. The street, a section of which was excavated in the past, is remarkably well-preserved and is built of enormous stone slabs. The street most likely runs above the 2,000 year old drainage channel, discovered a number of years ago, which carried rain water out of the city. It was constructed sometime in the fourth decade of the first century CE, and was one of the largest construction projects undertaken in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. Dozens of whole pottery vessels, stone vessels and glassware were found at the foot of the pyramid-shaped staircase.

Szanton and Uziel sit on the recently uncovered podium. Photo: IAA

Szanton and Uziel sit on the recently uncovered podium. Photo: IAA

According to archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel, who direct[ed] the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The structure exposed is unique. To date such a structure has yet to be found along the street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem and to the best of our knowledge outside of it. For this reason, its exact use remains enigmatic. The structure is built along the street in a place that is clearly visible from afar by passers-by making their way to the Temple. We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street. It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know. Bliss and Dickie, two British archaeologists who discovered a small portion of this structure about 100 years ago, mistakenly thought these were steps that led into a house that was destroyed. They would certainly be excited if they could come back today and see it completely revealed.”

Rabbinic sources speak of an “auction block” where slaves could be sold, and of a “Stone of Claims” where one who had found an item might announce it and the owner might claim it. The IAA Press release provides the references here.

Dr. Joe Uziel seated on the top step of the "podium." Photo: IAA.

Dr. Joe Uziel seated on the top step of the “podium.” Photo: IAA.

The coin below, from the Second Temple period, was found in the destruction layer atop the street.

Coin from period of the Great Revolt against the Romans. Copyright Clara Amit, IAA.

Coin from period of the Great Revolt against the Romans. Copyright Clara Amit, IAA.

We had already made a possible association of these steps with the blind man who left the Temple precinct to go to the Pool of Siloam at the bidding of Jesus (John 9).

A passage that now comes to my mind is from the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus teaches His disciples how to (and not to) pray.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:5 ESV)

HT: Joseph I Lauer for the additional links.

City of David inscription may name a Bible character

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday the discovery of “a layer of rich finds including thousands of broken pottery shards, clay lamps and figurines … in the area of the Gihon Spring in the City of David, in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park.”

Most intriguing is the recent discovery of a ceramic bowl with a partially preserved inscription in ancient Hebrew. While not complete, the inscription presents us with the name of a seventh century BCE figure, which resembles other names known to us from both the Biblical and archaeological record [see Press Release] and providing us with a connection to the people living in Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period.

Pottery sherd of a bowl from the end of the First Temple Period, bearing the inscription "ryhu bn bnh." Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Pottery sherd of a bowl from the end of the First Temple Period, bearing the inscription “ryhu bn bnh.” Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Dr. Joe Uziel and Nashon Zanton, directors of the dig, were working in ruins belonging to the period of the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians when the inscription was found. They say that the name most similar to the inscription is “Zechariah the son of Benaiah, the father of the Prophet Jahaziel.”

 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.  And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:14-15 ESV)

More information about this discovery is available in the IAA Press Release here. Other finds from the same area, shown in the photo below, are impressive.

Various finds from the fill layer of the end of the First Temple Period: oil lamps, LMLK stamped handles and female figurines. Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Various finds from the fill layer of the end of the First Temple Period: oil lamps, LMLK stamped handles and female figurines. Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer; Todd Bolen, Bible Places Blog (see here for more news links)

Video on the City of David

The Israel Antiquites Department has released a nice 9-minute video featuring archaeologists Ronnie Reich and Eli Shukron showing some of the highlights of the City of David excavation. The film features the following places:

  • The water system and Warren’s Shaft
  • The Canaanite pool channel
  • Gihon Spring
  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel
  • The Pool of Siloam
  • The Herodian Street
  • The drainage channel

The video runs a little slow on my computer, but if you give it a little time to load it is certainly worth the wait. The link is here.

The photo below shows part of two towers that served as a fortification for the protection of Gihon Spring as early as the Canaanite time.

Foundation of the fortification tower at Gihon Spring. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Foundation of the fortification towers at Gihon Spring. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The information sign at the site says,

It was here that a rock-cut pool and the remains of the bases of two towers were located. These towers, built of large stones, constituted part of the fortifications protecting the pool and the spring as early as the Middle Bronze Age (18-15 centuries BCE). The spring water flowed through the channel to a large pool, from which scores of people could draw water simultaneously. The surplus water flowed through a channel to another pool in the south of the city.

This work has been carried out by Reich and Shukron.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

City of David website wins global UN award

Our recent group to Jerusalem was able to see a few of the new discoveries made in the City of David excavations. Everyone can enjoy and profit by looking at this great website. Israel21c reports,

Israel may have missed out at the Oscars in Hollywood, but an Israel website, http://www.cityofdavid.org.il, won first prize at the UN-sponsored World Summit Awards (WSA) in Venice recently.

Selected as “the best in e-content and creativity in the category of e-culture,” “this outstanding website brings remote visitors face to face with the protagonists and locations of the living Bible,” the WSA stated in its laudatory citation.

“Its fabulous visuals and rich description of the site – in English, Spanish, Hebrew, French and Russian – bring to life the only place on earth where the only guidebook needed is the Bible itself.”

Read the full article here.

View the website of the City of David. It is a beautiful site filled with small photos, videos, and timelines. Below is a photo of the entrance to the City of David park. This entrance is located a little south of Dung Gate on the road that leads down to the point where the Kidron, Tyropean, and Hinnom valleys meet.

This area is not without political controversy and ramifications. An alternative web site, From Shiloah to Silwan, has good material.

HT: Paleojudaica.

Eighth Century B.C. Seal Found in the City of David

The Israel Antiquities Authority reports on the discovery of another seal from the area of the City of David. Read the full account here.

Finds recovered from the excavations in the City of David reveal an interesting development in the ancient world: whereas during the 9th century BCE letters and goods were dispatched on behalf of their senders without names, by the 8th century BCE the clerks and merchants had already begun to add their names to the seals.

In an excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting together with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Elad Association, a complete seal bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription with the name of its owner – Raphaihu (ben) Shalem – as well as parts of other seals with writing on it were found.

Here is a nice photo of the seal, courtesy of IAA.

Rephaihu (ben) Shalem seal discovered in the City of David. Courtesy of IAA.

Seals were commonly used during Old Testament times. Jeremiah speaks of sealing and signing a deed (Jeremiah 32:10). Jezebel sealed letters with Ahab’s seal (1 Kings 21:8). Numerous seals bearing the names of biblical characters have been found over the years. It is suggested that this seal belonged to a clerk or merchant of some importance in the 8th century B.C.

Professor Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron are the excavators of the project where this find was made.

HT: BiblePlaces Blog; PaleoJudaica.

Mazar now reads seal as Shlomit

We mentioned here that a seal found in the “City of David Excavation” in Jerusalem had been read by Prof. Eilat Mazar as Temech. In a comment on that page we noted that she had now changed her mind about the reading.

Today, the Jerusalem Post carried an article about this.

Mazar had originally read the name on the seal as “Temech,” and suggested that it belonged to the family of that name mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah.

But after the find was first reported in The Jerusalem Post, various epigraphers around the world said Mazar had erred by reading the inscription on the seal straight on (from right to left) rather than backwards (from left to right), as a result of the fact that a seal creates a mirror image when used to inscribe a piece of clay.

Several other scholars said the reading should be Shlomit.

Mazar said Monday that she accepted the reading of “Shlomit” on the ancient seal, and added that she appreciated the scholarly research on the issue.

“We are involved in research, not in proving our own opinions,” Mazar said.

Shlomit is the name of a woman mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:19. Several English versions I checked use the spelling Shelomith. Whether the seal has anything to do with the persons named in the biblical text is unknown.