JERUSALEM - A team of Israeli archaeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.
Archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel's Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.
"Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David," said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archaeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel's Antiquities Authority.
Garfinkel said his team found cultic objects typically used by Judeans, the subjects of King David, and saw no trace of pig remains. Pork is forbidden under Jewish dietary laws. Clues like these, he said, were "unequivocal evidence" that David and his descendants had ruled at the site.
Critics said the site could have belonged to other kingdoms of the area. The consensus among most scholars is that no definitive physical proof of the existence of King David has been found.
Biblical archaeology itself is contentious. Israelis often use archaeological findings to back up their historical claims to sites that are also claimed by the Palestinians, like the Old City of Jerusalem.
Despite extensive archaeological evidence, for example, Palestinians deny that the biblical Jewish Temples dominated the hilltop where the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site, stands today.
In general, researchers are divided over whether biblical stories can be validated by physical remains.