The archaeologist from the Hebrew University, Yosef garfinkel, is excavating a site known as Hirbet Qeiyafa, located in the Judean mountains, not far from the current city of Beit Shemesh. Last Tuesday presented in Jerusalem a series of objects that he has managed to recover from the ruins.
Among all those who showed two models of sanctuaries stood out, one of clay and one of stone. The peculiarity of these two representations is that are consistent with the architectural description of temples in the Bible, so the debate is reopened on whether the sacred text is based on real events or not. For Garfinkel, the discovery reinforces the theory that the city that stood at that site 3,000 years ago was inhabited by Israelites and was part of the kingdom ruled from Jerusalem. by the biblical King David.
Since Qeiyafa was discovered, it has been considered one of the most important excavations in the world of the biblical archeology. Garfinkel argues that the existence of a fortified city on the site supports the idea that there was a centralized kingdom, as described in the Bible.
Archaeologists are divided on whether King David was a historical figure or notBut it is only one point in a dispute that reflects a larger debate over whether the Bible is an accurate record of the events of that time. Some scholars think that the text is a narrative of the historical reality of the time, while others believe that it is entirely mythical and based only a small part on actual fragments.
Garfinkel is among the first and believes that his findings at the site support the idea that the Bible is based on real events: “There is a dispute here that is above the dating of any site: the entire Bible is being judged”.
The models of the shrines that have been excavated could have been used in ritual practices. One of the models, the one made of clay, includes a main door and two columns, as well as decorative elements such as two lions at the entrance and three birds on the roof. Garfinkel suggests that the columns resemble those of Solomon's temple, which appears in the Bible.
The Israeli archaeologist thinks that the most remarkable aspect of the Qeiyafa finds is what has not been found. The excavators have not found any trace of statuettes of animals or people, something common in other sites. This suggests that the residents lived with the prohibition of having idol performances. In addition, archaeologists at the site have found thousands of bones from sheep, goat and cattle, but none from pigs, indicating that they had a diet without said animal.
For Garfinkel this is clear proof that it is an israeli city: “The people at the site obeyed two biblical commandments: they did not eat meat and they did not have images of their saints.”.
On the other hand, the fortified nature of the settlement in Qeiyafa is important, since experts who claim that there was no organized kingdom in Judea in David's time, have based that conclusion in part on an absence of fortified cities. The reason is that the construction of these cities required a centralized administration. Qeiyafa could prove that those cities actually existed, which would mean that there could have been a centralized kingdom like the one described in the Bible.
Other scholars have warned that be cautious about the conclusions that can be drawn from what was found in Qeiyafa. This is the case of the archaeologist of the University of Bar-Ilan, Aren Maeir: «The models of sanctuaries of the type that were presented on Tuesday have been found in many other sites, belonging to other local cultures and all of them bear similarity to the architecture described in the Bible. And the existence of lions and birds in the clay model weakens the claim that no figures of people or animals have been found at Qeiyafa.”.
However, Maeir he does acknowledge that Qeiyafa was inhabited by Israelis, although he maintains that the cultural lines between the Israelis themselves are “much more diffuse and varied than is usually described”. For the archaeologist, the new findings do not prove conclusively "who were the inhabitants"Nor do they add new tests for"neither side”From biblical archaeologists.
The ruins of Hirbet Qeiyafa They were found in 2003 by Saar Ganor, an explorer for the Israel Antiquities Authority, who contacted Garfinkel and the excavation began in 2007. The following year, Garfinkel found one of the first most relevant objects: a ceramic helmet containing the oldest example of Hebrew writing ever found. This discovery meant, according to Garfinkel, that 3,000 years ago Israelis could record events and transmit them in the same way as the Bible it was compiled hundreds of years later.
Times of Israel
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.