JERUSALEM An Israeli archaeologist said Feb. 22 in a press conference that a recently excavated ancient city wall in Jerusalem dates back to the time of King Solomon.
Dr. Eilat Mazar, archaeologist behind the excavations, said the pottery shards discovered at the site date the walls to the 10th century B.C.E.
"A comparison of this latest finding with city walls and gates from the period of the First Temple, as well as pottery found at the site, enable us to postulate with a great degree of assurance that the wall that has been revealed is that which was built by King Solomon in Jerusalem in the latter part of the tenth century B.C.E.," said Mazar.
"This is the first time that a structure from that time has been found that may correlate with written descriptions of Solomon's building in Jerusalem," said Mazar. "The Bible tells us that Solomon built with the assistance of the Phoenicians, who were outstanding builders the Temple and his new palace and surrounded them with a city, most probably connected to the more ancient wall of the City of David."
Mazar believes that the wall was built by Solomon, David's son and specifically cites the third chapter of the First Books of Kings where it refers to "until he (Solomon) had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about."
The fortification includes a 77-yard (70 meters) long and 20 ft. (six meters) high section of an ancient wall, an inner gatehouse, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse, and a corner tower that overlooks a substantial section of the adjacent Kidron valley.
The findings are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, between the City of David and the southern wall of the Temple Mount.
Found on the floor were remnants of large storage jars, 1.15 meters in height, that survived destruction by fire and that were found in rooms that apparently served as storage areas on the ground floor of the building. On one of the jars there is a partial inscription in ancient Hebrew indicating it belonged to a high-level government official.
"The jars that were found are the largest ever found in Jerusalem," said Mazar, adding "the inscription that was found on one of them shows that it belonged to a government official, apparently the person responsible for overseeing the provision of baked goods to the royal court."
In addition to the pottery shards, cult figurines were also found in the area, as were seal impressions on jar handles with the word "to the king," testifying to their usage within the monarchy. Some seal impressions with Hebrew names were found also indicating the royal nature of the structure.
According to a press release from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the excavations in the Ophel area were carried out over a three-month period with funding provided by Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman, a New York couple interested in Biblical Archeology.