I have told you that this Nugget would be delayed until I could get access to the Biblical Archaeology Review’s site. Some of you amused me with your response to my not-so-tongue-in-cheek comments on the delay. I am pleased to provide entertainment for you as well biblical insights where I am able. Maybe I should turn my hand to writing comedy. Here then is a summary of the work of Nadav Na’aman in an attempt to follow up what Eilat Mazar found. Like Eilat Mazar, Nadav Na’aman considers the Large Stone Structure is likely to be King’s David’s Palace. Similarly he considers the Stepped Stone Structure to be the Millo, as referred to in the books of Samuel and Kings.
The Large Stone Structure and the Stepped Stone Structure are both located south of the Temple mount in Jerusalem at a point below the pinnacle of the Temple Mount. The location is the oldest part of Jerusalem and is built on a rocky spur which is known as the ancient City of David. Continuing archaeological excavation is difficult around the ancient City of David given a number of factors. The bedrock is located just below the surface; there is not much overburden in evidence at all. Any new construction has removed any remnant of previous development. Normally in the ANE each successive phase of building was done over the site of previous towns. The site was levelled and the new town was erected on the overburden of the old. Hence there was a layering of the human occupation ( called a tell) which proved a “goldmine” to archaeologists. But not in this case. Past removal and construction phases as well as the process of natural erosion have left barely a trace of former evidence. Furthermore, the site of the Temple Mount, being a sacred site for three dominant world religions, makes it an extremely sensitive location on which to excavate; archaeological access to the Temple Mount is forbidden.
To resolve some of the issues involved with locating the sites of David’s palace and Solomon’s residence, Nadav Na’aman turned to the Jewish scared texts. Recognizing that the likely location of King David’s palace (the Large Stone Structure) was off limits, he turned his focus to the Stepped Stone Structure. Nadav Na’aman turned first to the Biblical text found in 2 Sam 5:7-9:
But David captured the fortress of Zion, which is now called the City of David.
On the day of the attack, David said to his troops, “I hate those ‘lame’ and ‘blind’ Jebusites. Whoever attacks them should strike by going into the city through the water tunnel.” That is the origin of the saying, “The blind and the lame may not enter the house.”
So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces and working inward.
David fortified the City of David, enclosing it with a wall and built his residence there. A residence which assumedly was in a prominent place and looked out and down on the activity around him. We are told in the account of David’s wife Michal, looking out and seeing David bringing the Ark into the city and seeing him dancing without modesty, that she looked out of the window from their residence and saw the actions of the King (2 Sam 6:16). Also the story of David “noticing” Bathsheba bathing (2 Sam 11:2) while looking out over the city infers the palace was on the promontory. Likewise, when Absalom wanted to shame his father by laying with his concubines he was advised by Ahithophel to do it in public. It is clear from the text of 2 Sam 16:21-22 that not only was it in a place which overlooked the city, but it was also in a place which was public and 'all' could see what Absalom was doing. You can see that to be true from the photo below.
Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you.”
So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father’s concubines.
Five hundred years later in the time of Nehemiah, when the wall was completed Nehemiah organized a procession to dedicate the wall.
“I led the leaders of Judah to the top of the wall and organized two large choirs to give thanks. One of the choirs proceeded southward along the top of the wall to the Dung Gate. (Neh 12:31) . . . At the Fountain Gate they went straight up the steps on the ascent of the city wall toward the City of David. They passed the house of David and then proceeded to the Water Gate on the east (Neh 12:37)
The second choir giving thanks went northward around the other way to meet them. I followed them, together with the other half of the people, along the top of the wall past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, then past the Ephraim Gate to the Old City Gate, past the Fish Gate and the Tower of Hananel, and on to the Tower of the Hundred. Then we continued on to the Sheep Gate and stopped at the Guard Gate.(Neh 12:38-39)
That has given us a good transverse of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in relationship to the House of David (his residence or palace). Nadav Na’aman figured the House of David (the palace) must therefore be located near the Stepped Stone Structure on the summit of the north-eastern slope from the Temple Mount. As a result Nadav Na’aman stated “I believe King’s David’s residence should be sought on the crest of the City of David, near the Large Stone Structure unearthed by Eilat Mazar.”
We know now the Temple Mount is off limits to excavation so our sights must turn to toward the Millo. That will become our focus of attention in the Nuggets.
What is it?
Is it referred to elsewhere?
What biblical references are there to the Millo?
Has there been any other research done on the Millo?
Follow the continuing story in the Nuggets.