A bundle of new discoveries on a rocky hill in Israel may upend the community of Biblical historians struggling to understand Judah in the time of King David. Professor Yosef Garfinkel from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a team of archaeologists have been excavating the ancient city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, and have recently unearthed a trio of cultic shrines that date back to the time of King David. Along with stone and metal tools, pottery and art objects, the site provides the first evidence of a cult at the time of King David. Based on the archaeologists' analysis, the religious practices of the cult also match the traditions described in the Bible.
"This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, 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," Garfinkel told Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He explained that radiometric measurements performed at Oxford dated the artifacts to around 1020 to 980 BC, 30 to 40 years before the construction of King Soloman's temple. "Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans - on pork and on graven images - and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines."