CITYsights: A tale of two tombs

Tradition places the location of King David’s burial site on Mount Zion - despite archaeological evidence to the contrary.

By ITRAVELJERUSALEM STAFF
June 14, 2011 11:47
1 minute read.
Jerusalem Old City Jaffa Gate

Jerusalem Old City Jaffa Gate 311. (photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)

 
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Although the biblical account states that King David was “buried with his forefathers in the City of David,” tradition would have it that the legendary monarch’s remains lie a few hundred meters from there, on Mount Zion.

The structure that has come to be known as King David’s Tomb is located just next door to the Dormition Abbey, on the ground floor of a structure traditionally considered the site of the Last Supper. The first evidence that the site was viewed as David’s burial place is in the writings of fabled traveler Benjamin of Tudela. Still, it remains unclear what historical evidence prompted those who declared the site to be David’s final resting place.

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As you’ll see in this week’s CITYsights video, more recently, the biblical tradition that places King David’s final resting place in the City of David has gained more popularity. In 1913, French Jewish archaeologist Raymond Weil dug in the area of the City of David and discovered a series of crypts which he identified as the burial site for members of the House of David. However, no definitive identification can be made because the site was used as a quarry during the Roman period and sustained heavy damage.

Across the way, at the Mount Zion site known as King David’s Tomb, is a sarcophagus that was placed there by the Crusaders. Although it is ornamented with several symbols associated with King David, including a violin and a crown covering Torah scrolls, whether or not it contains any human remains is anyone’s guess.

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