Archeologists from the Hebrew University and Israel’s Antiquities Authority excavate and locate King David’s Palace in Shaarayim; First artifacts and findings of central authority in Judah during the rule of King David


Khirbet Qeiyafa, where some archaeologists believe King David built his palace (photo credit: courtesy/ Israel Antiquities Authority)

Israeli archeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem made an amazing discovery. In Khirbet Qeiyafa, not far from Bet Shemesh about 30 kilometer outside of Jerusalem, Israeli archeologists found what they believe to be a palace of Kind David. The finding is believed to be Shaarayim, the city where David battled and killed the Giant Goliath, a fortified Judean city.

King David ruled the area during the 10th century BC.

The account of David and Goliath can be found in 1 Samuel Chapter 17. In 1 Samuel 17:52 it is written, “Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaarayim road to Gath and Ekron.”

The Hebrew University and Israeli Antiquities Authority discovered the area, measuring 1,000 square meters in July of 2013. Hebrew University Professor Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor of the Antiquities Authority led the excavation, and continue researching the site. Garfinkel has referred to this extraordinary find as “the best example to date of the uncovered fortress city of King David” stating that the discovery is “indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.”

Garfunkel and Ganor spoke of the archeological significance of Shaarayim, stating that, “To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century BC as we can do now. Khirbet Qeiyafa was probably destroyed in one of the battles that were fought against the Philistines circa 980 BC. The palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah.” Garfinkel noted the Biblical significance of Shaarayim stating, “If King David ever came here from Jerusalem, he entered from this gate. It is likely we are walking in the footsteps of King David.”

“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David. The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city. The wall enclosing the palace is 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found – evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt,” stated Garfinkel.
Garfinkel’s team found additional proof that the site is in fact a royal site. The team found a storeroom 15 meters long, believed to be storage site used for collecting taxes. Archeologists collected hundreds of artifacts that included pottery and religious artifacts. Over 600 ceramic pots were found.

Yoli Schwartz of the Israel Antiquities Authority explained the location’s significance as a kingdom. Schwartz stated that, “The palace is located in the center of the site and controls all of the houses lower than it in the city. From here one has an excellent vantage looking out into the distance, from as far as the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Hebron Mountains and Jerusalem in the east. This is an ideal location from which to send messages by means of fire signals.” Schwartz also pointed out the significance of finding organic material from the site. Archeologists found olive sees that can be carbon-14 dated to King David’s period of reign.
Archeologists continue to research and excavate findings from Shaarayim. Israel’s Antiquities Authority hope that area will become a national park to preserve and educate of Jewish history, specifically King David’s reign.