National Geographic : 2010 Dec
0mi 25 0km 25 ASIA EUROPE AFRICA Hazor Megiddo Gezer Tel Dan Khirbat en Nahas Khirbet Qeiyafa Jerusalem En Hazeva GAZA STRIP WEST BANK JORDAN SAUDI ARABIA SYRIA LEBANON ISRAEL TURKEY EGYPT Amman Beirut Damascus Nablus Jericho Tel Aviv- Yafo Netanya Gaza City Beersheba El Arish Haifa Nazareth Tripoli Latakia Idlib Hatay (Antioch) Tel Rehov Gath Hebron Elah Valley Irbid NEGEV Dead Sea Gulf of Aqaba Sea of Galilee Lake Assad Euphrates Jordan Mediterranean Sea EDOM MOAB OF JUDAH KIN GDOM OF IS RAEL KING DOM MAXIMUM EXTENT OF TERRITORY CONTROLLED BY DAVID AND SOLOMON BIBLE QUEST The golden age of a unified Israel lasted 80 years, from David's rise to king around 1010 B.C. to the death of his son Solomon in 930 B.C. At least, that's what the biblical chronology says. Archaeologists have found structures from the era, but neither carbon dating nor pottery evidence confirms exact dates, leaving the grandness of David and Solomon's empires open to interpretation. FORTIFIED CITIES The Bible says Solomon "built every- thing he desired," including the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. By 1960 archaeologist Yigael Yadin had identified six-chambered gates at all three sites and proclaimed them built by Solomon. Israel Finkelstein argued in 1996 that evidence suggests the gates were likely built by a different ruler a century later. The debate continues. HOUSE OF DAVID Most Judaean kings traced their lineage to David; Jewish prophets said the Messiah would be a descendant of David. A stela appearing to be inscribed with the words "House of David" was found at Tel Dan in 1993. The inscription was made a century after Solomon's rule; a few argue it may not refer to the biblical David. Key Biblical history Archaeological interpretation supporting biblical history Archaeological interpretation contrary to biblical history CITY OF DAVID When David became king, the Bible says, he commissioned a palace in Jerusalem at the site of the Fortress of Zion. In 2005 Eilat Mazar uncovered a monumental building in Jerusalem and identified it as David's palace, based on its location and pottery. The date of construction is contested; the style of pottery was used over a long period. CITY OF TWO GATES The Bible cites a Judaean border town named Shaaraim, or "city of two gates," near the Elah Valley, where David battled Goliath. Yosef Garfinkel is excavating ruins there and has found olive pits and pottery he dates to David's time. Finding two gates, he announced he had found Shaaraim. With only 5 percent of the site excavated, some remain skeptical. ANCIENT COPPER MINES Solomon's temple, as described in the Bible, was filled with bronze objects that would have required extensive mines. Thomas Levy is excavating a large copper-production site dating to the tenth and ninth centuries B.C., which implies a complex, centralized society existed in Solomon's time. Critics say the mines don't prove the existence of an Israelite kingdom. LAWSON PARKER, SAM PEPPLE, AND LISA R. RITTER, NGM STAFF. SOURCES: BARRY BEITZEL, TRINITY EVANGELICAL DIVINITY SCHOOL; ERIC CLINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY Map elements in this color represent biblical history.