Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
Ancient cities of the biblical period did not include public areas comparable to the central forum in Roman cities, the piazza in medieval European cities, or the shopping malls of modern cities. Instead, the gate area was the heart of the city, as everyone who entered or left the city had to pass through it.
The city gate was where elders of the town sat and passed judgment on disputes brought before them.
Importance of the city gates
Movement through this inner gate could have been controlled, so that possibly not everyone who was allowed into the piazza could then proceed further into the city.
I’m reminded of theater design in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in which lobbies are meant to physically hold everyone in a public space before they’re let into the actual theater space inside.
Tabun is an Arabic term referring to round overns used for baking, measuring around 0.5-1m (1 1/2-3 1/4 ft) in diameter and generally constructed of earth, though occasionally from a circle of rounded stones.
…four large stone steps (a rare find in itself, as built stone steps are seldom uncovered in excavations) descended into the main room.
To the best of our knowledge, drainage channels have not been reported in ordinary dwellings in biblical period cities–only in the city gates–so this came as a surprise.
“To the best of our knowledge” –I like the warning/caution they give here, though most may gloss over it. Small statements like this are small flags in the text that scholars should note for potential future research. Subtle flags like this pop up in math textbooks frequently, but often only the well-trained know to take advantage of them.
This demonstrates how the understanding of archaeological remains can change as an excavation progresses.
Another archaeology 101 example here. Keep in mind that something that may look one way at a point in the research may change fundamentally as one “digs” further.
A bench stood next to the entrance–a feature found only in cultic rooms.
…which we interpreted as a stable.
again another cautionary flag that might possibly take other interpretations.
One room (G) is unusual: it contained a bench…
G doesn’t seem to actually be labeled on diagram C3, but does appear on Fig. 28 of building C10
Pillared buildings are well known from the period of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel and were used as public storehouses for the produce collected as tax from farmers. The existence of such a building at Khirbet Qeiyafa clearly indicates central authority and administration.
We know that in ancient times urgent messages were communicated over great distances by sending signals using fire or torches. Evidence of this practice in the Kingdom of Judah comes from an inscription on a pottery sherd from Lachish from the time when Nebuchadnezzar was besieging the city: “we are watching for the fire signals of Lachish according to all the signs which my lord has given. The palace at Khirbet Qeiyafa would ahve been an ideal place for sending and receiving such torch-signals.
Nice documentation in the archaeological record for early long distance communication
…we can three phases of development in cities in Judah in the biblical period (Fig. 33).
Khirbet Qeiyafa was probably the first site constructed according to this plan. [urban planning in Israel involving a casemate wall with houses that incorporate the casemates as rooms. Several examples from the following centuries exist using a similar pattern.]
The excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa thus reveal another important aspect of the historical figure of David, and show that not only did he build cities, but also that a new concept of urban planning emerged during his reign.
… the city was built in several major phases. In the first phase, the site was cleared of earlier settlement remains and bedrock was exposed around the future city. In the second phase, stones were quarried and brought up to the line of the city wall. […] In the third pahse, the builders began work on the gates and their chambers. […] Construction of the wall itself commenced in the fourth phase. […] In the fifth and final phase, the private houses whose walls incorporated the casemates were constructed.
This was a good demonstration that the chronological dilemma cannot be resolved on the basis of pottery alone.
In the 2008 season we had discovered carbonized olive pits in the city wall and in rooms of the destroyed buildings in Area B.
The enormous tension that accompanied sending the samples via express mail resulted in the credit card with which we paid for the shipment being mistakenly packed inisde and sent to the laboratory at Oxford, along with the olive pits.
This could be a great plot point in a thriller version of this story!
One might think that with multiple samples, they might send them separately, that way if some are lost, then at least they’ve not lost everything!
A discovery made in our 2011 excavation season […] A jar containing some 20 olive pits was found in the destroyed city. […] which clearly indicate that the city had been destroyed no later than 980 to 970 BCE. […} Today, the dating […] is based on nearly 30 samples, probably the best radiometric dating we have so far for any level in a biblical city.
…determining the dates of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah is not a simple task, and the length of those of David and Solomon, exactly 40 years each, appears to be a literary device rather than reflecting historical reality. We therefore propose that the round number of 1000 BCE as the date of David’s accession to the through, though this is merely an approximation. […] But it is clear from the radiocarbon determinations that Khirbet Qeiyafa can be dated to the time of David or Saul, but no to Solomon’s reign, which is later than the results obtained. It will only be possible to decide conclusively if an inscription naming one king or another is found at Khirbet Qeiyafa. To be scientifically cautious, we accept the later date, to the reign of King David.
The “excavation dump” is the term commonly used by archaeologists in referring to the piles of earth and stones that they remove from the ground during excavation.
In 2007 it was possible to claim that nothing was known archaeologically about King David; ten years later the situation is very different, and archaeology can present two sites from his period in the Judean Shephelah.
Guide to highlight colors
Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Red–Example to work through