Daily Israel Report

Artifacts From Time of Kings David and Solomon Revealed

The artifacts were displayed for the first time on Monday at a gathering marking 40 years since the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish rule.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 5/15/2007, 12:49 PM

In honor of Jerusalem Day, which begins Tuesday night, archaeologists revealed a number of seals from the time of the Biblical Kings David and Solomon. The seals, along with other recently uncovered artifacts, were displayed for the first time on Monday, at a
The City of David area was a commercial and trading center.
conference marking 40 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem by the modern State of Israel.

The Bible-period artifacts were unearthed during archaeological excavations underway in Ir David, the City of David, below Jerusalem’s Old City to the east. The specific artifacts on display on Monday were found at the Beit HaMaayan (well-house) dig, overseen by Haifa University's Archaeology Department Director, Professor Ronny Reich.

The greatest scientific and public interest was focused on more than 100 seals and signet rings, used as a means of authentication for written papyrus documents, from the time of the reigns of Kings David and Solomon. The seals bear various markings that, when deciphered, indicate the sender of the document and his or her location. The large number of such seals, archaeologists explained, indicate that the City of David area was a commercial and trading center.

Several hundred leaders of Israel's industry and the economy took part in the Jerusalem gathering at which the artifacts were displayed.

Similar seals and signets have been found at various excavation sites around Jerusalem over the past decade. Some of those seals bear names of royal advisors and servants mentioned in various Biblical accounts of the reigns of Jewish monarchs.

In 2005, a Hebrew University archaeologist and a leading authority on ancient Jerusalem,
Some seals bear the names of royal advisors mentioned in various Biblical accounts.
Dr. Eilat Mazar uncovered a clay seal in what she claimed served as the residential palace of Jewish kings from King David until the destruction of the First Temple, for a period of 450 years. That seal, dated from about 580 BCE, bears the name Yehuchal Ben-Sheleimiya, who is identified as a royal envoy and court minister sent by King Zedekiah to the prophet Jeremiah (in chapters 37 and 38 of the Bible's Book of Jeremiah).

Several years earlier, another circa-580 BCE royal seal was found at the same site. It had the name of Gemaryahu, son of Shafan, who is also mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, and who was a top official in the court of King Zedekiah's predecessor, King Yehoyachim. Another seal found among dozens of others bears the name of Azaryahu Ben-Hilkiyahu, a member of a priestly family, who served in the Temple before Jerusalem's destruction (according to I Chronicles, 9:10).