Most of M&D’s LMLK Handles Were Found In Shiloh’s Area G

Looking at the list of lmlk handles found in the excavations of Macalister and Duncan, I noticed the letters “NB” in four of the designations of five lmlk handles. As I found in this article, “NB” was Macalister and Duncan’s acronym for North Bastion, that is, the Stepped Stone Structure. Thus, M&D’s “NBS” are the steps of the SSS, the lmlk handles found there originating either from the area of the House of Ahiel and Burnt Room or from a collapse from the area of E. Mazar’s excavation area. “NBF”, meanwhile, likely means the front (even more likely, face) of the Stepped Stone Structure, precisely the area of the House of Ahiel and Burnt Room probably in the excavation area mentioned on pages 50-51, which cut into the debris made by the cutting of the trench for the construction of the North Hasmonean tower, which was dumped on the northern face of the SSS. If I remember correctly (I am sure GM Grena can refute or support the products my memory), lmlk handles have also been found in Shiloh’s excavations in his Area G (the whole SSS-House of Ahiel area). The find spots of M&D’s lmlk handles explain the fact that M&D found lmlk handles even though E. Mazar found no Iron IIb remains in her excavation area upslope of Area G except in two loci (and, of course, the fill underneath the Northern Hasmonean tower).

Avi Faust’s Misguided Responses to Finkelstein in His BAR Article On Large Stone Structure

Avi Faust has more or less recently published a BAR article restating his 2010 views on the Large Stone Structure with some responses to some of the points raised by Israel Finkelstein in 2011. Needless to say, I strongly recommend you watch my video on the Large and Stepped Stone structures before attempting to figure the issues out for yourselves. Also, read my post combining Macalister and Duncan’s plans with the modern ones. You could also look in the YouTube comments to see how I deal with criticism.

Now that you’ve watched the video, you may readily anticipate mine (and Israel Finkelstein’s) responses to Faust’s responses. While I am no archaeologist, I think I can anticipate the next volley in the debate from half a mile away.

Firstly, the stratified Iron I layers provide us only a terminus post quem for the dating of the construction of the Large Stone Thing, as no floors were found in those layers. They are certainly not a terminus ante quem, as Faust seems to think, as Late Bronze sherds were also recovered in the Brown Earth Accumulation, and we know Jerusalem did not have a substantial population in the Late Bronze, and Middle Bronze sherds were recovered in the Brown Earth Accumulation in Mazar’s excavation area in the first season of excavations. This is, for some reason, not recognized by Faust. There are also, as Finkelstein pointed out, Early Iron IIa sherds in the Brown Earth Accumulation below (Finkelstein 2011 pg. 7) the Large Stone Thing, demonstrating the LSS was constructed in the mid-tenth C BC or later.

Secondly, contra Faust, Finkelstein does not claim all the Iron Age materials are limited to half a room; he merely described it as being the only architecture that could be associated with the Iron Age remains. Also contra Faust, Finkelstein does note that Iron I metallurgical waste abuts the structure and accepts this as evidence of Iron I architecture below the Hasmonean city wall (Finkelstein 2011 pg. 6).

Thirdly, the connection between the Large and Stepped Stone structures is not as certain as Faust thinks; the upper two or three courses of the SSS were added by Jordanian authorities, as Finkelstein demonstrates. Besides, while the lower part of the SSS certainly dates to between the 11th and 8th centuries BC, the upper part may have been constructed by the Hasmoneans to help prevent slope erosion. The Iron IIa remains found in the so-called ‘floors’ of the buildings above the lower part of the SSS may or may not have been parts of fills. Lastly, the Iron IIa remains found in Locus 47 (in Room C) were very likely parts of a fill, as Iron IIb remains were found below them and Iron IIb-c remains are only found in one other locus of E. Mazar’s excavation (and, of course, in the fill beneath the northern Hasmonean tower).

Faust also seems not to recognize that, as I pointed out when discussing Macalister and Duncan’s book, Duncan and Macalister point out that, compared to the Perso-Hellenistic period, little Iron Age material was found in their excavation areas. While M&D’s excavations may explain the lack of Perso-Hellenistic material in Mazar’s excavation area, they do not explain the lack of Iron II material, which Macalister and Duncan believed was due to Maccabean removal of earlier material “by violence”. If, as Faust speculates, the absence of Iron IIb-c material was due to the abandonment of the Fortress of Zion (as Faust considers the LSS to be part of that fortress), what was an empty field doing in the middle of Josiah’s East Jerusalem? My explanation for the absence of Iron IIb-c remains was that they were removed by the Hasmonean builders of the Large Stone Structure and the Hasmonean pottery was thoroughly cleared out by the domestic Herodian-era occupants of Mazar’s excavation area.

Some Things To Note On the Macalister and Duncan Plans of Field 5

Watch the “Palace of David” video before reading the below remarks.

Firstly, in this plan, the eastern part of the plan should be erased and not considered, as it does not correspond to reality. Secondly, it should be noted that, as in the case of E. Mazar’s excavation, little Late Iron II pottery was found in the M&D excavations, suggesting, as is said by Josephus, a mass removal of Iron II remains in the area of the Akra by Simon the Hasmonean.

Image 1 (plan of “Jebusite” stratum):

Note that the westernmost of the “Jebusite” walls uncovered by M&D is parallel to Wall 107 West and perpendicular to Wall 20/27. This supports the TAU reconstruction of the Large Stone Structure’s plan.

Image 2 (plans of “Hebrew” and “Jebusite” strata):

Note the existence of a corner around the cistern just to the NE of the Hasmonean ritual bath. The combination of this fact and the existence of the “Jebusite” “Inner Wall” noted above is very strong evidence for the TAU reconstruction of the LSS’s plan. Also, note the large elevation differences along the course of Wall 107 pointed out on Page 5 of Finkelstein 2011-if that is not proof of the TAU reconstruction of the LSS’s plan, I don’t know what is. Note that the Early Byzantine “Davidic Wall” follows a completely different course from the “Jebusite” “Inner Wall”. It is difficult to see how Amihay Mazar confused these two features; yet, amazingly enough, he did.

Image 3 (plan of “Hebrew” stratum):

Note the little NE wall, in the areas of Walls 21, 107, 22, and 24. Though the excavators claim that the Hasmonean ritual bath (labeled by them the “stepped cistern”) “cut through” the “Davidic wall” and did not cause any visual unsightliness as it was underground during its period of use, it is clear the “Davidic Wall” was actually built after the disuse of the ritual bath, and was built during the Early Byzantine period as part of the “House of Eusebius”. The Herodian vaulted chamber is not shown as part of M&D’s plans. It was apparently located below the Early Byzantine “staircase” below the “Millo Tower”. A curious Early Byzantine painted figure was found at the join between the “Millo Tower” and the “Davidic wall”.

Image 4 (plans of “Hebrew” and “Herodian” strata):

In the Herodian period, a domestic quarter sprung up to the S. of Eilat Mazar’s excavation area. According to M&D, the floor of the house just to the W. of the House of Eusebius is four feet lower than that of the House of Eusebius, thus suggesting it is Herodian.

Image 5 (plan of “Herodian” stratum):

Numerous cisterns were found to date to this period.
Image 6 (plans of the “Herodian” and “Roman” strata):

The “Roman” period of the excavators is the 4th-5th C AD (the Early Byzantine period). The “Millo Tower” and “Davidic Wall” in reality date to the excavators’ “Roman” period.
Image 7 (plan of the “Roman” stratum)

Several beautiful mosaics were found in the “House of Eusebius“. Numerous lamps were also found to date to the Byzantine period.