A Hebrew University archeologist says finds at a new dig site near Jerusalem are backing up the biblical narrative of an Israelite kingdom centered on Jerusalem in 1000 BC, around the time of King David and his son, King Solomon.
Professor Yosef Garfinkel has been digging at Khirbet Qeiyafa near the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh since 2007. Carbon dating of unearthed olive pits has put the period of activity at Khirbet Qeiyafa at 1020 BC - 980 BC, almost exactly the period of time the Bible says David and Solomon were active in the region. The dating, together with the uniqueness of the finds, has made Khirbet Qeiyafa one of the most important biblical archeological digs.
Less than a year after working Khirbet Qeiyafa, Garfinkel unveiled what is believed to be the oldest Hebrew inscription found to date. At the time, Garfinkel said the inscription proved that vibrant, centralized and literate Hebrew kingdom existed in the area 3,000 years ago, just as the Bible says it did.
Last week, Garfinkel shared his latest find - two ancient models of shrines that very closely resemble the biblical description of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. The models would have presumably been used in religious rites.
Garfinkel also says it is now clear that Khirbet Qeiyafa was a walled town, which means it must have been part of a centralized larger kingdom.
Perhaps most importantly, Garfinkel says the site is completely devoid of pagan idols and imagery, and contains no pig bones, despite being well endowed with the bones of sheep, goats and cattle. Together this means the site must be Israelite remains, as the Israelites were the only local people forbidden from eating swine or engaging in pagan rituals.
All of this evidence combined is important because it counters the claims of some archeologists that the Bible is full of myths, which until now the have based on the lack of evidence for a large and centralized Israelite kingdom around 1000 BC.
"For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible," Garfinkel said in a press release. "Various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong."
Still, not everyone is convinced, and many Israeli archeologist and professors continue to label the Bible as national folklore. Garfinkel hopes that continued work at Khirbet Qeiyafa and other sites will eventually lay bare the truth.