Suitcase and World: The City of David.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The City of David.

Artistic rendering of what the City of David looked like in the 10th century BC.  (Image from Who Moved the Temple)
The City of David is the birthplace of the city of Jerusalem, the place where King David built his palace and established his kingdom.

 In 1004 BC, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites and established his capital there. It was here where the People of Israel were united under King David’s rule, here where the Holy Ark was bought and here where the First Temple was built by King Solomon, King David’s son.

The City of David was located on a narrow ridge, about 80-100 meters wide, running south from Temple Mount. The city was established in the area around the Gihon Spring, located in the Kidron Valley. The City of David was naturally defended by the Tyropoeon Valley on its west, the Hinnom valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east; although over time the once-steep valley to the west has been largely filled in.

In the ancient pred-Israelite period, the City of David was separated from the Temple Mount by the Ophel, an uninhabited area which became the seat of government under Israelite rule. During the reign of Hezekiah, the walls of the city were expanded westward, enclosing a previously unwalled suburb in the area now known as the Old City of Jerusalem, west of the Temple Mount.

Image from
The archeological exploration of the City of David began in the middle of the 19th century and continues to this day.  The latest excavations were carried out between 1978 and 1985 and there is an ongoing process of updating and revising previous interpretations.

Today the City of David is an archeological park.  The remains of the city are present in the ancient stones and the thousands of shards that cover the pathways between the buildings. Among the archeological ruins are large elaborate houses, Warren's Shaft leading to the water tunnel that was used to transport water from the Gihon spring outside the city, and the remains of one of several towers that was used to defend the well. It is thought that King Solomon was anointed and crowned king of Israel at this site. Among the ruins found in the city were personal seals for signing letters and documents bearing the names their owners – people who were mentioned in the bible.

Warrem's Shaft (Image from
Deep underground, the City of David is revealing some of the most exciting archeological finds of the ancient world, while above ground, the site is a vibrant center of activity and popular tourist attraction for families.  The current archeological park offers a Visitor’s Center, 3D exhibition and guided tours through the excavations that include Warren’s Shaft, ancient water systems such as Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the Second Temple Shiloah pool. 

One of the most fascinating parts of the City of David is the Siloam Tunnel (also known as the Tunnel of Shiloh)- a 533-meter long tunnel that was carved during the period of King Hezkiyahu. The tunnel extends from the city to the well at Shiloh, and is an astounding engineering feat. Its builders carved the tunnel through solid rock beginning from opposite ends and succeeded in making the two sides meet in the middle.

The official City of David website offers a video of what archeologists believe the city looked like in its heyday.

Of course, the once grand city now sits in ruins and a lot of people would not be interested in seeing what amounts to be a pile of rocks as some would describe it as but I love this sort of stuff.  I've signed up for a guided tour and I'm looking forward to every minute of it!