Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Biblical Tradition and King David

Author and excavation director Yosef Garfinkel summarizes the remarkable findings and implications from his excavation of an ancient early 10th century fortified city in Israel.

Khirbet Qeiyafa, in Israel, is located on the summit of a hill that borders the Elah Valley southwest of Jerusalem. This would have been a key strategic location in the biblical Kingdom of Judah, on the main road from Philistia and the coastal plain to Jerusalem and Hebron in the hill country. Even prior to excavation, visitors to Khirbet Qeiyafa could discern a massive city wall, 2–3 m in height, encompassing the summit of the hill. This city wall demarcates an area of 2.3 hectares with a total length of ca. 700 m. Due to the local topography, only the external face of the wall is exposed, the inner part buried under archaeological remains. The base of the wall is composed of cyclopean stones, some weighing 4–5 tons, while its upper part is built with medium-sized stones. Two city gates were already located prior to their excavation, one in the south and one in the west (Figs. 1–3).


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Yosef Garfinkel is Yigael Yadin Chair in Archaeology of Eretz Yisrael and Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of numerous books, articles and papers and is a holder of the Polonsky Book Prize. He is currently excavating at Tel Lachish in Israel.