Biblical Archaeology Review 24:4, July/August 1998
David’s Jerusalem: Fiction or Reality?


Jerusalem is probably the most excavated city in the world. And few cities hold such fascination for the public as well as for the scholar. What was the city like when the Israelites entered Canaan? (Apparently it was strong enough to resist Israelite pressure for 200 years.) What was the city like when David conquered it in about 1000 B.C.E.? And finally, what was the city like during the glorious reigns of David and Solomon?

The answer that some scholars have recently given to these questions is that the city didn’t exist during this period. Among those who have taken essentially this position is a distinguished Dutch scholar, Margreet Steiner, who is preparing the relevant parts of the final report of the famous excavation of Jerusalem by Dame Kathleen Kenyon (who died in 1978), which was conducted from 1961 to 1967. If there is anyone who could effectively present this position from the archaeological viewpoint, it is Dr. Steiner. So we have asked her to address these questions for our readers.

We have also asked two scholars to respond: the first, Jane Cahill, because she, like Steiner, is publishing the relevant parts of an extremely important Jerusalem excavation, conducted by the distinguished Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shiloh (who died in 1987) from 1978 to 1985; the second, Nadav Na’aman, because Steiner directly criticizes an article of his addressing this subject that previously appeared in BAR.

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