Friday, December 02, 2005

David's Palace Unearthed?

A fascinating story abou the probably discovery of David's palace, here. Says Mazar, the archaeologist overseeing the dig who relied heavily on the Bible to take her to where she dug, "This is giving the Bible's version a chance. The Washington Post story continues:
She essentially drew a map to the palace using the Bible and two nearby excavations carried out by the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon and the Israeli archeologist Yigal Shilo, who was once her mentor. Digging in the 1960s, Kenyon found massive stone walls near a rough-hewn, stepped structure running up the side of the valley. On the valley floor, Kenyon uncovered Phoenician capitals -- the tops of columns -- that suggested a monumental building may have stood above.

David's palace, according to the Bible, was built by workers sent to him by the Phoenician king, Hiram of Tyre. Mazar also used passages from the Books of Samuel to trace David's steps to a site adjacent to Kenyon's excavation.

A good bit of the article is devoted to the debate surrounding the Bible's accuracy as an aid to archaeological and historical discovery:
Mazar's find is emerging at the nexus of history, religion and politics, volatile forces that have guided building, biblical scholarship and war in this city for millennia. Even before the findings have been assembled in a scientific paper, the discovery is prompting new thinking about when Jerusalem rose to prominence, the nature of the early Jewish kingdom, and whether the Bible can be used as a reliable map to archaeological discovery....
For two centuries, historians in Germany, the United States and Israel have debated the value of the Bible as an authentic record of events. Biblical archaeology emerged as a way to explore the Old Testament through discoveries on the ground. It attracted renowned scholars and adventurers to the Holy Land, but also a number of evangelical Christians and religious Jews who appeared intent on proving the Bible true.

Those who draw on the Bible, such as Mazar, argue that it should play a central role in archaeological discovery because it is the only document from that time. But in recent decades the most accepted view has been that the Bible is more myth than history, particularly its books recounting events that happened centuries earlier, like those relating to David.

Anyway, read the whole thing here.