Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A 10th century BCE palace at Gezer?

ARCHAEOLOGY: King Solomon-era Palace Found in Biblical Gezer. Monumental 3000-year-old ruins, Philistine pottery support biblical tales of Gezer's rise, and fall to a jealous pharaoh (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
A palatial building dating to the era of King Solomon 3000 years ago has been discovered in the royal city of Gezer, though there is no evidence which of the Israelite kings lived there, if any.

The monumental building dates to the 10th century BCE, the era associated with King Solomon, who is famed for bringing wealth and stability to the newly-united kingdom of Israel and Judah. The American archaeological team also found a layer featuring Philistine pottery, lending credence to the biblical account of them living in the city until being vanquished by King David.

Clearly an important discovery, whether or not the exact date and proposed biblical connection (on which more below) stand up. This, however, is disappointing:
Archaeologists had assumed that once they cleared the massive stones left behind from the destruction, they would find storerooms filled with artifacts. To their dismay, most of the rooms were empty. “It appears that everything was cleaned out before the destruction. Perhaps they knew of the impending attack and removed most of the objects," [Prof. Steve] Ortiz says.
Sigh. Conscientious people.

And about that dating and biblical connection:
Dr. Sam Wolff, an archaeologist employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and co-director of the excavation along with Ortiz, urges caution in connecting the finds from the excavation with biblical texts.

Regarding attribution of the palace to the time of King Solomon, Wolff tells Haaretz, “Our 10th century date is tentative, pending further study of the ceramic assemblage and the results of carbon 14 analyses. Others may claim that the pottery we are calling 10th century is in fact 9th century.
The thing to be excited about is the discovery of an early Iron Age II palace. Any biblical background that eventually stands up to scrutiny is just a bonus. Meanwhile, it would be really nice if a nice lapidary inscription turned up in the rubble to tell us all about what was actually going on.