The stele was discovered just as the debate concerning whether David and Solomon had ever existed was reaching an initial crescendo among scholars. While some scholars argued that it was indeed a mighty capital city, as described by the Bible, others believed that it was simply a small “cow town.” In fact, it is still not clear where David is positioned along the continuum from tribal chieftains to mighty kings and just how large the city itself was during his time.At a single blow, the finding of this inscription settled the question of whether David was an actual historical person, at least in the minds of most scholars. Temple Mount and City of David Aerial - photo Bible During her excavations in Jerusalem after 1961, Kathleen Kenyon discovered the remains of what archaeologists call the “Stepped Stone Structure” in an area that is just outside the walls of the Old City.Gila Cook, the expedition’s surveyor, discovered the first fragment from the stele. This is sometimes thought to be part of the defensive system erected by the Jebusites from whom David captured the city.She had gone out to the site one day in the early afternoon and noticed that one of the rocks in a wall that had recently been excavated had letters inscribed upon it. More recently, excavations by Eilat Mazar of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem within this same area suggest that this Stepped Stone Structure may be connected to a much larger building.Yadin, at various times during his career, was chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, deputy prime minister in the government of Menachem Begin, and a prominent archaeologist on the faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.His excavations at several sites uncovered archaeological remains which he attributed to Solomon; they remain essentially the only sites to date which contain such remains outside of Jerusalem. Yadin’s first substantial excavations took place at Hazor, located in the north of Israel.Throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium, Finkelstein proposed a re-dating of the traditional chronology—which places the dates of the reigns of David and Solomon in the tenth century BCE—and suggested instead that much of the pottery and other materials that had been dated to the tenth century and thus assigned to the time of David and Solomon should in fact be assigned instead to the ninth century or later and to other kings.
Instead, they assert, on the basis of construction techniques and structural differences, in addition to pottery and other finds, that the walls unearthed by Mazar do not belong to a single building but rather to several, and that the pottery and other remains indicate that the Stepped Stone Structure represents at least two phases of construction—with the lower part possibly dating to the ninth century BCE and the upper part dating to the Hellenistic period.The British archaeologist John Garstang had already dug there in 1928, but it was Yadin whose excavations from 1955 to 1958 brought the site to life.Yadin’s staff members were among the best available; many of his area supervisors went on to become established professors of archaeology or key figures in the Department of Antiquities.Megiddo Excavation with Yigael Yadin Photo David Bivin, Lifeinthe Holy Yadin dated the walls and gates at Megiddo and Hazor, as well as Palace 6000 at Megiddo, to the time of Solomon in the tenth century BCE.In large part this was because of one passage from the Bible—a passage from 1 Kings that describes the building activities of Solomon at the sites of Megiddo, Hazor, Gezer, and Jerusalem: “And this is the account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied to build the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer” (1 Kings ).
It seems that the original inscription, which had been inscribed and erected at Tel Dan in about 842 BCE, had later been taken down and broken into fragments, some of which were eventually reused in the wall. Her excavations have uncovered massive walls, which she identified as the remains of a building that she called the “Large Stone Structure” and which she said was part of a complex that included the Stepped Stone Structure on the slope.