Two rare 3,000-year-old models of ancient shrines were among artifacts presented by an Israeli archaeologist on Tuesday as finds he said offered new support for the historical veracity of the Bible.
The archaeologist, Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University, is excavating a site known as Hirbet Qeiyafa, located in the Judean hills not far from the modern-day city of Beit Shemesh.
Garfinkel says the central finds presented Tuesday at a Jerusalem press conference — two model shrines, one of clay and one of stone — echo elements of Temple architecture as described in the Bible and strengthen his claim that the city that stood at the site 3,000 years ago was inhabited by Israelites and was part of the kingdom ruled from Jerusalem by the biblical King David.
Since Qeiyafa was first unveiled in 2008, it has become considered one of the most important ongoing excavations in the world of biblical archaeology. Garfinkel says the existence of a fortified city at the site around 1,000 BCE supports the idea that a centralized kingdom existed around that time, as described in the Bible.
One tenet of Arab rejectionism is that the Jews never really occupied this land. An absurd claim on the face of it, but if it puts the question of Jewish legitimacy in the land of Israel (proper and greater) into discussion, it serves a purpose:
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Qeiyafa finds, he said, is not what has been found but what has not: The diggers have found none of the cultic figurines of animals or people common at other sites, he said, suggesting residents followed a prohibition against idol worship. And the archaeologists at the site have found thousands of bones of sheep, goats and cattle, but none of pigs, suggesting they followed a dietary prohibition on swine.
“The people at the site obeyed two biblical commandments — they didn’t eat pig, and they didn’t make graven images,” he said. This, he said, supported his view that the site was a fortified Israelite city.
No kidding! People observing Jewish rites and traditions, even in ancient times. I wonder if Tom Friedman knows this? Oh, of course. He knows everything.
The fortified nature of the settlement at Qeiyafa is important because members of the “minimalist” school in biblical archaeology, who claim there was no organized kingdom in Judea at the time David was supposed to have existed, have based that conclusion in part on an absence of fortified cities at the time. Building such cities requires centralized administration.
Qeiyafa would seem to show that such cities in fact existed, meaning that there could well have been a centralized kingdom like the one described in the Bible.
Other scholars have urged caution in reaching conclusions based on the findings from Qeiyafa.
“There’s no question that this is a very important site, but what exactly it was — there is still disagreement about that,” Maeir said.
The ruins at Hirbet Qeiyafa were first noticed in 2003 by Saar Ganor, a ranger with the Israeli Antiquities Authority. He contacted Garfinkel, and digging began in 2007.
The next year, Garfinkel unveiled the first dramatic find from the site – a ceramic shard that some scholars believe contains the oldest example of Hebrew ever found. He suggested the writing supported the case for the Bible’s accuracy, because it meant that 3,000 years ago the Israelites could record events and transmit the history that was compiled as the Bible several hundred years later.
I’d say this news deserves a song. Desmond Dekker, will you favor us please?