Archeologist’s assertion of unearthing legendary Jerusalem citadel met with skepticism

Critics: Evidence insufficient to support such a monumental finding.

May 8, 2014 06:24
1 minute read.
Aerial view over Jerusalem's Tower of David.

Jerusalem aerial view David Citadel 370. (photo credit: Library of Congress)


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Claims by Israeli archaeologist Eli Shukron that he found the legendary citadel captured by King David during his conquest of Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE have been met with skepticism due to a pronounced lack of evidence.

According to Shukron, the citadel’s alleged ruins first emerged in 1995 when his team unearthed a 3,800-year-old fortress built of fiveton stones in the east Jerusalem village of Silwan. The archeologist, who recently left the Israel Antiquities Authority to work as a lecturer and tour guide, said he excavated the site – built 800 years before King David is believed to have captured it – for nearly two decades and was confident of his claim.

“This is the citadel of King David; this is the Citadel of Zion, and this is what King David took from the Jebusites,” he told the Associated Press. “We can compare the whole site to the Bible perfectly.”

However, over the years a number of archeologists have made similar claims that were discounted due to a lack of evidence, compounded by the assertion that political and religious beliefs may have hindered their scientific methods.

Moreover, Shukron’s onetime collaborator at the site, Ronny Reich, said far more evidence should have been discovered from the 10th century BCE, during King David’s reign, to support the claim.

Shukron said he has unearthed only two shards of clay that date anywhere near that time.

Reich said it was not possible to reach definitive conclusions about biblical connections without more direct archaeological evidence.

The multi-million dollar excavation, funded by Elad, which settles Jews in homes in Arab areas of east Jerusalem to prevent the city from being divided, was made accessible to tourists last month.

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