Royal Palace, Tell el-Ful
|Town or city||Pisgat Zeev, Jerusalem|
|Client||King Hussein of Jordan|
The Royal Palace at Tell el-ful stands near Beit Hanina, atop a hill named Tell el-Ful (Hill of Beans, Hebrew: גבעת שאול, Givat Shaul, lit. Hill of Saul). It was intended to be a summer residence for King Hussein of Jordan, who had conquered Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and annexed the territory after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Construction started in the mid-1960s, but was interrupted when Israel captured the area during the 1967 War. Still owned by the Hashemite Kingdom, it remains today as found in 1967, an unfinished shell.
The hill, located just west of Pisgat Ze'ev overlooking the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat, is 2,754 ft above sea level, making it one of the highest summits in the region. The identification of tell el-Ful with biblical Gibeah, the capital of King Saul, is generally accepted and ruins of a fortress are apparent at the site. Due to the sites archaeological significance, a number of digs have occurred at the site, the first in 1868. Jordanian plans to build the royal palace atop the mound prompted a third excavation in 1964 which attempted to salvage and document and findings prior to construction work.
The palace was built in reaction to the locating of the residence of Israel's president in West Jerusalem. Intended to be the official holiday retreat of the Jordanian royal family, it was to be an architectural masterpiece that would host dignitaries from around the world. The design envisaged a grandiose structure consisting of three levels, interconnected with arches plated with Jerusalem stone. Construction came to a halt after the 1967 war when Israel took control of the West Bank. The structure was still a building site and was left uncompleted. The skeletal, two-storey cement structure remained empty and has since become a haven for drug users. Local officials said that attempting to redevelop the building and end the neglect would potentially "raise a storm in Jordan." In August 2011, the Jerusalem municipality stopped unauthorised workers who had erected a fence around the site. The Jerusalem wakf denied that Jordan was preparing to renovate the palace.
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The third season of excavation at Tell el-Full was a salvage operation, since King Hussein of Jordan was planning to build a palace on top of the mound.
- Philip J. King (1 January 1983). American archaeology in the mideast: a history of the American schools of oriental research. American Schools of Oriental Research. p. 161. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
Lapp was also prompted to dig at Tell el Ful because the ancient ruins were scheduled to be demolished to make way for the construction of a new West Bank palace for King Hussein of Jordan.
- Paul W. Lapp (January 1975 ). The tale of the Tell: archaeological studies. Pickwick Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-915138-05-0. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
Tell el-Ful was on my list of sites in Jordan deserving prompt archaeological attention. The western slope is rapidly being covered with beautiful new homes, and at the present rapid building pace the mound will be covered within a few years. King Hussein has rented one of these homes as his West Bank palace. Press reports indicate that he may erect a palace at the summit, but apparently there are no immediate plans. In any case, there seemed some justification in considering the campaign a salvage operation.Check date values in:
- John V. Canfield (February 2002). The Middle East in turmoil. Nova Publishers. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-59033-160-6. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- Jordanian monarch's villa in Jerusalem turns into shelter for junkies, Xinhua News Agency, November 22, 2010.
- Work halted on King Hussein's old summer villa in J'lem, Jerusalem Post, August 14, 2011.
- Waqf spokesman denies renovation of King Hussein palace, Ma'an, August 14, 2011.