Dr. Eilat Mazar on the Ophel
|Born||September 10, 1956|
|Alma mater||Hebrew University of Jerusalem|
|Known for||Discovery of the Large Stone Structure|
|Institutions||Shalem Center, Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University|
Career and discoveries
The Large Stone Structure ("King David's palace")
On August 4, 2005, Mazar announced she had discovered in Jerusalem what may have been the palace of the biblical King David, according to the Bible the second king of a united Kingdom of Israel, who may have ruled in the late eleventh century/early tenth century BCE. Now referred to as the Large Stone structure, Mazar's discovery consists of a public building she dated from the 10th century BCE, a copper scroll, pottery from the same period, and a clay bulla, or inscribed seal, of Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi, an official mentioned at least twice in the Book of Jeremiah. In July 2008, she also found a second bulla, belonging to Gedaliah ben Pashhur, who is mentioned together with Jehucal in Jeremiah 38:1. The dig was sponsored by the Shalem Center and financed by an American investment banker, Baron Corso de Palenzuela Ha Levi-Kahana Mayuha. The land is owned by the Ir David Foundation.
Amihai Mazar, a professor of archeology at Hebrew University, and Mazar's cousin, called the find "something of a miracle". He has said that he believes that the building may be the Fortress of Zion that David is said to have captured. Other scholars are skeptical that the foundation walls are from David's palace.
"Solomonic gate and tower" at the Ophel
In 2010 Mazar announced the discovery of part of the ancient city walls around the City of David which she believes date to the tenth century BCE. According to Mazar, "It's the most significant construction we have from First Temple days in Israel" and "It means that at that time, the 10th century, in Jerusalem there was a regime capable of carrying out such construction." The 10th century is the period the Bible describes as the reign of King Solomon. Not all archaeologists believe that there was a strong state at that time, and the archaeologist Aren Maeir is dubious about such claims and about Mazar's dating.
In 2012, Mazar announced the discovery of inscription at the Ophel excavation. The Ophel inscription was made on a large storage jar, and only a piece of 8 letters has been preserved. Several readings were suggested, as well as several attributions, possibly to Jebusites or to Hebrews. It dates to 11th–10th century BCE.
Ophel gold hoard (7th century CE)
On September 9, 2013, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announces that Eilat Mazar recently discovered a gold treasure at foot of Temple Mount, dating back to the end of the Byzantine period (beginning of the 7th century). Dubbed as the Ophel Treasure, the 1,400-year-old cache contains a gold medallion on which a menorah, a shofar and a Torah scroll are etched.
Bulla of Hezekiah
In 2015, Mazar made the discovery of the royal bulla of the biblical Hezekiah, which reads "Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah" and dates to between 727–698 BC. This was, according to Mazar, "the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever come to light in a scientific archaeological excavation."
Bulla of Isaiah
In 2018 Mazar published a report discussing the discovery of another bulla which she says may have to have belonged to Isaiah, a prophet and contemporary to Hezekiah. She believes the fragment to have been part of a seal whose complete text might have read "Belonging to Isaiah the prophet." Several other experts, including George Washington University's Christopher Rollston, have pointed to the bulla being incomplete, and the present inscription not enough to necessarily refer to the biblical figure.
According to Mazar herself, "I work with the Bible in one hand and the tools of excavation in the other, and I try to consider everything."
However, Israel Finkelstein and other archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have flagged concern that, with reference to her 2006 dating of the "Solomonic city wall" in the area to the south of the Temple Mount known as the "Ophel", "the biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar's literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence. Regarding her dating of her City of David findings in general, and the Large Stone Structure in particular, the chronological data recovered in her excavations indicate that the sole Iron Age fortification system extending in this area was in use during the 8th–7th centuries BCE. However, according to the biblical sources the Solomonic city-wall must have passed here, hence [she maintains] the fortification system in question must be Solomonic in date.
Mazar was also cautioned by epigrapher Ryan Byrne following the 2008 confusion over the inscription on the Shelomit seal, that "in the mad dash to report biblical artifacts to the public or connect discoveries with the most obscure persons or events reported in the Bible, there is sometimes a tendency to compromise the analytical caution that objects of such value so dearly deserve."
- Mazar, Eilat (2006). "Did I Find King David's Palace?". Biblical Archaeology Review. 32 (1) (January/February): 16–27, 70. ISSN 0098-9444
- Mazar, Eilat (2004). The Phoenician Family Tomb N.1 at the Northern Cemetery of Achziv (10th-6th Centuries BCE). Sam Turner Expedition. Final Report of the Excavations (Cuadernos de Arquelogia Mediterranea 10), Barcelona.
- Mazar, Eilat (2003). The Phoenicians in Achziv, The Southern Cemetery. Jerome L. Joss Expedition. Final Report of Excavations 1988-1990 (Cuadernos de Arquelogia Mediterranea 7), Barcelona.
- Mazar, Eilat (2003). The Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem 1968–1978 Directed by Benjamin Mazar Final Reports Vol. II: The Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods. Qedem. 43. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Mazar, Eilat (2002). The Complete Guide to the Temple Mount Excavations. Jerusalem: Shoham Academic Research and Publication. ISBN 965-90299-1-8.
- Mazar, Eilat (1999). The Monastery of the Virgins - Byzantine Period - Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem. Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- Mazar, Eilat. with Mazar, B. (1989). "Excavations in the South of the Temple Mount". The Ophel of Biblical Jerusalem, Jerusalem.
- Mazar, Eilat. The Ophel Exavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013
- Mazar, Eilat. Discovering the Solomonic Wall in Jerusalem; A Remarkable Archaeological Adventure.
- Mazar, Eilat. The Palace of King David; Excavations at the Summit of the City of David Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007.
- Mazar, Eilat. The walls of the Temple Mount.
- Mazar, Eilat. The Summit Of The City Of David Excavations 2005-2008 Final Reports Volume I
- Mazar, Eilat. The Discovery of the Menorah Treasure at the Foot of the Temple Mount.
- Rossner, Rena (January 26, 2006). "The once and future city". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 15, 2009.
Mazar, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based conservative think tank, is a graduate of the Hebrew University, and granddaughter of the famous archeologist Binyamin Mazar.
- "Unique biblical discovery at City of David excavation site". Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. 18 Aug 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-16. The identifications of the four biblical figures in these two bullae, namely, Jehucal, Shelemiah, Gedaliah, and Pashhur, are affirmed to be strong identifications in Lawrence Mykytiuk, "Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible," Biblical Archaeology Review, vol. 40, issue 2 (March/April 2014), p. 47 (persons 31–34) and p. 49, with endnotes on all 50 persons, including persons 31-34, freely available online at http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/comment-page-1/#comments. Earlier, these four identifications had been found to be very reasonable in Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, "Corrections and Updates to 'Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E.,'" Maarav 16/1 (2009), pp. 85–100, which is freely available online at https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/lib_research/129/.
- Steven Erlanger, "King David's Palace Is Found, Archaeologist Says", The New York Times, August 5, 2005.
- Etgar Lefkovits, "Nehemiah's wall uncovered", The Jerusalem Post, November 28, 2007
- "Jerusalem city wall dates back to King Solomon," Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2009, 
- "Message decoded: 3,000-year-old text sheds light on biblical history", foxnews.com
- "Ancient Golden Treasure Found at Foot of Temple Mount". Hebrew University of Jerusalem. September 9, 2013.
- Eisenbud, Daniel (2 December 2015). "FIRST EVER SEAL IMPRESSION OF AN ISRAELITE OR JUDEAN KING EXPOSED NEAR TEMPLE MOUNT". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 2015-12-03. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Fridman, Julia (4 January 2016). "Hezekiah Seal Proves Ancient Jerusalem Was a Major Judahite Capital". Haaretz. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Smith, Dov (2 December 2015). "First seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king ever exposed in situ in a scientific archaeological excavation". Retrieved 25 February 2018.
- Biblical Archaeology Review 2015 King Hezekiah in the Bible: Royal Seal of Hezekiah Comes to Light
- Mazar, Eliat (March/April May/June 2018). "Is This the Prophet Isaiah's Signature?". Biblical Archaeology Review. 44 (2): 64–69. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
This seal impression of Isaiah, therefore, is unique, and questions still remain about what it actually says. However, the close relationship between Isaiah and King Hezekiah, as described in the Bible, and the fact the bulla was found next to one bearing the name of Hezekiah seem to leave open the possibility that, despite the difficulties presented by the bulla’s damaged area, this may have been a seal impression of Isaiah the prophet, adviser to King Hezekiah.Check date values in:
- "2018 February". rollstonepigraphy.com. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
- "Eilat Mazar: Uncovering King David's Palace". Archived from the original on January 20, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-20., Moment Magazine, April 2006. Accessed 2008-07-29
- Israel Finkelstein, Ze'ev Herzog, Lily Singer-Avitz and David Ussishkin (2007), Has King David's Palace in Jerusalem Been Found?, Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, 34(2), 142–164
- Ryan Byrne, Hebrew Seals and the Rush to Biblical Judgment Archived October 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Biblical Archaeology Review website, 6 February 2008. Accessed 2008-07-29.
- Eilat Mazar's work and publications, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University