So much of the archaeology in Israel/Palestine is driven by religious and nationalistic motivations that one has to take the interpretations of these discoveries with a grain of salt, as it were.
Some archaeologists claim that three rows of stones found in Khirbet Qeiyafa prove the existence of a kingdom shared by two biblical kings - David and Solomon; other scholars beg to differ.
This is not the first time that the excavators at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Antiquities Authority, make waves in the Israeli archaeological community. In recent years the two claimed that their findings from the biblical site poke holes the minimalist approach to Israeli archaeology. This approach, which is identified with several leading scholars from Tel Aviv University, asserts that archaeological research disproves what is written in the Bible, and that the Bible cannot be used as a reliable historical source.
The debate centers mainly on the question of the existence and the power of the United Monarchy – the joint kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century BCE. The minimalists claim that there was no such kingdom, and if it did exist it was limited to Jerusalem. Jerusalem itself, they claim, was no bigger than an average village. The opposing camp, comprised of archaeologists who propone the maximalists or the biblical approach, claims that the Bible faithfully reflects the situation in the region during that period, with emphasis on the existence of a strong and significant kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.
This debate, which has occupied Israeli archaeologists for decades, occasionally finds itself another arena for the battle. In the past, the scholars have argued over the city gates at Hatzor, Megiddo and Gezer, and later the findings in the City of David in Jerusalem. In recent years, Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fairly low hill south of Ramat Beit Shemesh, has become the focus of the debate.
On Thursday, Garfinkel and Ganor completed the excavation at Qeiyafa after seven years. Their findings attest to the fact that this was an important district capital that was subordinate to Jerusalem and ruled its surroundings, and that the culture was Judahite-Israelite rather than Canaanite or Philistine. They suggest that Qeifaya be identified with the city of Sha'arayim that is mentioned in the Bible. "And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Sha'arayim," relates the book of 1 Samuel, describing the pursuit of the Philistine army immediately after David's glorious victory over Goliath. According to Garfinkel and Ganor, Qeiyafa discredits the minimalist approach and proves the existence of the United Monarchy.
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