Friday, September 04, 2020

Magnificent First-Temple-era palace inferred near Jerusalem

ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENTS: At popular Jerusalem promenade, archaeologists find a First Temple-era palace. Rare column heads located at Armon Hanatziv walkway, indicating residents of ancient city found their fortunes outside the walls after easing of Assyrian siege 2,700 years ago (Times of Israel).

It's entertaining to compare the headlines for this story to the articles. The Times of Israel, above, is fairly restrained. Others are less so:

Rare ancient royal mansion unearthed in Jerusalem. Magnificent, rare remains of residential structure from the time of the Kings of Judah discovered in excavation by Israel Antiquities Authority (Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c)

Mystery of 'magnificent palace' found in Jerusalem (BBC/MSN)

It took me a while to work out that there is no magnificent, mysterious, lavish First-Temple-era palace. That is, there is no surviving ground architecture with foundation and walls and such.

The actual news is that archaeologists found some quite important stone fragments, including three capitals of Proto-Aeolian columns. From the stone fragments they infer, I'm sure correctly, that there was once a magnificent palace in the area.

Alas, it is long gone, destroyed, apparently, by the Babylonians in 586/87 BCE. But the capitals are very impressive. Todd Bolen has a post on their importance at the Bible Places Blog.

Some headlines do reflect the situation more clearly. For example: Limestone artifacts from ancient royal mansion unearthed in Jerusalem (Brooks Hays, UPI). Good for them.

Never assume that a headline tells you the story accurately.

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