King David's city discovered? Ancient site linked to biblical kingdom, archaeologists say

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered an ancient site that may offer fresh insight into the ancient biblical kingdom of David and Solomon.

Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have been excavating the remains of a large house dubbed the “Governor’s Residence” that was destroyed by a fire in an 8th century B.C. Assyrian military campaign.

The impressive four-room home, located at Tel ‘Eton in the Judean foothills, had at least two stories and its ground floor extended over 2,420 square feet. Occupying high ground at the top of a mound, the house was carefully built with deep foundations. Large masonry stones were placed in the corners and entrances of the building and high-quality building materials were used, according to experts.

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The discovery could shed new light on the joint kingdom ruled by David and his son Solomon, which is described in the Hebrew Bible, but has long divided historians. Also known as the united monarchy, the territory is said to have included the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Aerial photograph of Tel 'Eton, looking south. (Griffin Aerial Imaging)

Aerial photograph of Tel 'Eton, looking south. (Griffin Aerial Imaging)

While some experts believe that the kingdom existed in the 10th-century B.C., others have questioned its existence, citing a lack of evidence of royal construction at the center of the region where the kingdom is said to have existed.

However, part of the building at Tel ‘Eton has been dated to a period in history that coincided with the supposed joint kingdom, according to Prof. Avraham Faust and Dr. Yair Sapir. The archaeologists recently published their findings in the journal Radiocarbon.

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"Surprisingly, radiocarbon dates from within the floor make-up and from within a foundation deposit that was placed below the floor indicate that the building had already been erected in the 10th century BCE, between the late 11th century and the third quarter of the 10th century BCE. This date is in line with other finds related to the construction, like the foundation deposit itself," said Prof. Faust, in a statement.

A composite aerial photograph of the four-room house (Sky View and Griffin Aerial Imaging, edited by Yair Sapir)

A composite aerial photograph of the four-room house (Sky View and Griffin Aerial Imaging, edited by Yair Sapir)

The construction of such a major residence at the top of a mound, with commanding views over the local area, marks an important event in the site’s history, according to Faust and Sapir, particularly when viewed in the context of the ancient city’s growth.

However, the archaeologists note that "the association with David is not based on direct archaeological evidence, but solely on circumstantial grounds." Nonetheless, the erection of the residence and the growing size of Tel ‘Eton could make a link to the David plausible, the researchers say, noting that the King is said to have existed in the nearby Judean highlands.

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Another site at Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Judean highlands, about 12.5 miles north of Tel ‘Eton, has also been linked to David, Haaretz reports. Jerusalem and other biblical cities such as Hebron, are also located in the Judean hills.

Large masonry stones at the main entrance to the building (Avraham Faust)

Large masonry stones at the main entrance to the building (Avraham Faust)

There have been a number of fascinating finds in the region in recent years. A trove of bronze coins, the last remnants of an ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were recently discovered near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

In February, archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal mark that may bear the signature of the biblical Prophet Isaiah.

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Last November, new evidence dated Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Roman era, matching historical records.

Other finds include the skeleton of a pregnant woman, dating back 3,200 years, in Israel’s Timna Valley, at a place once called King Solomon’s Mines.

At the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists are also hunting for evidence of the tabernacle that once housed the Ark of the Covenant.

Some experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus' apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers