David and Solomon: Real?
Could a Shard of Pottery, an Underground Tunnel, and the Ruins of an Illustrious Temple Be Proof Enough of King David and King Solomon’s Existence?
(WASHINGTON, D.C. — April 18, 2007) For centuries, archeologists have painstakingly pored over ruins and rubble for new evidence to further our understanding of biblical characters and their existence — from the never-ending quest for Noah’s ark to new insights from fresh discoveries like the Gospel of Judas. Linked within this ancient puzzle is a search for verification that two legendary kings of Israel — David and Solomon — actually existed. Many Jews, Christians and Muslims revere these kings, yet little has been found to scientifically verify their fascinating stories. Was there a young boy named David who slew a giant and later became the first king of Israel? Did his son Solomon build a legendary temple to house the Ark of the Covenant?
On Sunday, May 6, 2007, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) follows the intriguing trail of evidence through Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan in search of the legendary father and son who are the Lost Kings of the Bible. Journey deep into underground tunnels and through deserts and learn of the surprising discoveries — a shard of pottery, an underground tunnel, the ruins of an illustrious temple — that may provide tantalizing proof of the lives of King David and King Solomon. Could the legends of old indeed be based on actual people, places and events?
Few haven’t heard of the small boy on an ancient battlefield who legend says brought down Goliath with a slingshot. For scientists, it still remains a tall tale. Travel with Lost Kings of the Bible as it investigates the meaning behind a two-inch piece of baked clay dating back to the 10th century BCE with Philistine writing on it. The writing on the pottery translates as “Goliath,” and it could be that artifact that lends the story a historical foundation it never had before.
Then, go in search of the tunnel that David is said to have used to invade Jerusalem. Ronny Reich, professor of archaeology at the University of Haifa, may have found it — a long, deep tunnel that existed well before David was born. Lost Kings of the Bible also shares the single most important discovery in relation to David that gives him credence as the King of Israel: a stone inscription called the Tel Dan Stele, which was written by an enemy king who claimed that he had destroyed the “House of David.” This is the first time that David has been referenced in a non-biblical source. Is it proof enough that a King David of Israel did exist?
David’s son Solomon was not known for his famous battle exploits, but rather for his great wisdom, and for erecting a temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant. Lost Kings of the Bible hunts for evidence off his accomplishments, including this legendary first temple of Judaism, which is described as supremely ornate, filled with gold and other riches. A temple has been found, dating from the time of Solomon. Is it the Temple on the Mount that archeologists have been searching for? Its location is not where scholars expected to find it, but might it be linked to Solomon, along with other findings such as chariot horse stables and six-chambered gates?
Says John Monson, associate professor of archaeology at Wheaton College, “We are left with a very full biblical description of a glorious temple, but no physical temple to unearth in Jerusalem or even nearby.” Adds Eric Cline, archaeologist at George Washington University, “We have the Tel Dan Stele for David… we need an inscription for Solomon and we don’t have that yet.”
Concludes Cline, “The archeologists, the scientists are trying to ascertain exactly who [David and Solomon] were, when they were and how important they were … but for the faithful, that doesn’t really matter.”
Additional experts featured in Lost Kings of the Bible include Ted Brock, Egyptologist; Deborah Cantrell, horse culturalist, Eric Cline, associate professor of archaeology, George Washington University; Gila Cook, chief supervisor of Tel Dan Excavation; Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology, Tel Aviv University; Amihai Mazar, professor of archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and archaeologist Mohammad Najjar, among others.