First, I received this:
...we approach May 8, when Prof. Yossi Garfinkel, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "will hold a press conference and private tour to announce all-new findings related to the time of Kings David and Solomon, including presentation of artifacts never before seen by the public related to construction of Solomon's temple and palace."Then came this:
...Prof. Garfinkel and his excavation at The Elah Fortress - Khirbat Qeiyafa have been challenged based on an article by Israel Finkelstein and Alexander Fantalkin, Khirbet Qeiyafa: An Unsensational Archaeological and Historical Interpretation, Tel Aviv 39:1, 38-63 (2012). The article's abstract states: "The article deals with the finds at the late Iron I settlement of Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Valley of Elah in the Shephelah. It points out the methodological shortcomings in both field work and interpretation of the finds. It then turns to several issues related to the finds: the identity of the inhabitants, their territorial affiliation and the possibility of identifying Khirbet Qeiyafa with sites mentioned in the Bible and in the Shoshenq I list."
In addition, in a comment at Dr. Aren Maeir's The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog, George M. Grena quoted a section of the Finkelstein-Fantalkin article (from p. 58): "The idea that a single, spectacular finding can reverse the course of modern research and save the literal reading of the biblical text regarding the history of ancient Israel from critical scholarship is an old one. Khirbet Qeiyafa is the latest case in this genre of craving a cataclysmic defeat of critical modern scholarship by a miraculous archaeological discovery."
One may follow "the 'death' of minimalism" thread to see the comments about the Finkelstein-Fantalkin article, which follows Dr. Garfinkel's "The Birth & Death of Biblical Minimalism" article in the BAR May/June 2011 issue ("For more than three decades, Biblical Minimalists have cast doubt on the historicity of David and Solomon. Now, the excavator of Khirbet Qeiyafa, the site that recently produced the earliest known Hebrew inscription, presents new evidence that David and Solomon ruled over a well-organized and fully urbanized Judahite state in the tenth century B.C.E. Only a hundred years later did the northern kingdom of Israel develop into an urbanized state, just as the Bible describes".
Hebrew University archaeologist finds the first evidence of a cult in Judah at the time of King David, with implications for Solomon’s TempleWow.
Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.
This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.
[Images of the new discoveries can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/garfinkel. Images credited to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.]
Located approximately 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem in the valley of Elah, Khirbet Qeiyafa...existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.
The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras. The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.
The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.
...[said Garfinkel] "Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”
...The cult objects include five standing stones (Massebot), two basalt altars, two pottery libation vessels and two portable shrines. No human or animal figurines were found, suggesting the people of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed the biblical ban on graven images. Two portable shrines (or “shrine models”) were found, one made of pottery (ca. 20 cm high) and the other of stone (35 cm high). These are boxes in the shape of temples, and could be closed by doors. The clay shrine is decorated with an elaborate façade, including two guardian lions, two pillars, a main door, beams of the roof, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. Two of these elements are described in Solomon’s Temple: the two pillars (Yachin and Boaz) and the textile (Parochet)...Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text is clarified. For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible.
A critical view:-
if there was a House of David (which I argue is another name for Jerusalem) that could be a player on the international stage in c.800 BC as per the Tel Dan Inscription, and there is an organising authority in the Valley of Elah in c.1000 BC, it’s not inconceivable that the two entities could end up aligning, such that we eventually have some strong evidence for a Kingdom of Judah in the time of David and Solomon. However, we don’t have that yet...
The day after.