Back on July 15, in the middle of this year’s Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation, I wrote about the potential of some new finds:
Best case scenario: A couple of things have been found that could add entirely new dimensions to our site over several periods, including the early Iron Age (ca. time of King David). One find could potentially impact our understanding of David’s kingdom, depending on what more is learned through excavation.
Alternate scenario: A couple of things have been found that are not as grand as we hoped for, but are still exciting and add new dimensions to our site over several periods, including the early Iron Age.
At this point things generally point to the “alternate scenario” – which is still a good thing. (Few finds result in a “best case scenario” interpretation. How many “extraordinary” things really exist at any one site?) I will use a few posts to highlight some of our finds during the 2010 season at Khirbet Qeiyafa.
Note: all “Iron Age” finds are from the Iron IIa period, the time of King David in the Bible.
This Iron Age room was uncovered in Area C, near the southern gate. The large columns are unique among the structures unearthed so far. The discovery of a chalk feeding trough led to its identification as an animal stable.
So far, this is the only building we’ve found that does not have a beaten earth (dirt) floor. Its pebble floor and large stone columns suggest it could have been a public building, indicating the existence of a central authority.
Was this a horse stable? If so, it would be exciting. Horses are expensive to obtain and to care for, and are not well-suited for farm work in the Judean foothills. Horses were best-suited for military use with chariots or to carry messengers. An Iron Age horse stable can indicate growing economic and military power. There is no mention of horses in Israel during the period of Saul son of Kish, but David’s administration had some (2 Samuel 15:1). Solomon is recorded as a major trader importer/exporter of Egyptian horses. He also had thousands in military service.
Upon further excavation the building does not seem to have been a horse stable. The size of the structure seems to befit donkeys or mules. There are plenty of references to donkeys and mules in Israel. David’s predecessor Saul was looking for lost donkeys when Samuel first encountered him. (1 Samuel 9:20) Mules were royal mounts during David’s administration. (2 Samuel 13:29; 1 Kings 1:38)
I departed the excavation a few days before this room was finished, so there could be more information of which I am not aware. If there is more I will learn of it in a few weeks at the ASOR Annual Meeting. Several papers on Khirbet Qeiyafa will be presented this year.
More finds to come…