JERUSALEM, Israel -- Was the Bible's King David man or myth? That's the question Israeli archeologists are answering with new archeological finds. Their discoveries also shed light on how the first Jewish temple was built.
Khirbet Qeiyafa is in the Elah Valley. Not far from here the Bible says David killed the giant, Goliath.
"We don't know much about the history, the politics really and about urbanization in the time of David," archaeologist Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, with the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told CBN News.
"From the Bible we don't know it. And here in Khirbet Qeiyafa for the first time, we have a fortified city from the time of King David," he said.
About 20 miles outside Jerusalem, Khirbet Qeiyafa was a border city in the Kingdom of Judah -- not too far from Goliath's hometown of Gath. Carbon dating shows it existed from 1020 to 980 BC, around the time of King David.
Garfinkel, who worked together with the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist and co-director at the site Saar Ganor, said they excavated dozens of rooms. He believes three of them were used for religious purposes.
"The infrastructure is different, you have (an) isolated room in (the) building while in Canaanite and pagan (structures), you have real temples," Garfinkel said.
But that's not all. Garfinkel presented religious artifacts at a press conference in Jerusalem.
"We have two boxes -- one made from pottery and the other made from stone and they were used for keeping symbols of God," he told journalists.
The portable shrines were shaped like temples and confirm the biblical description found in the Old Testament book of First Kings. That describes the architectural style in Solomon's Temple and shows that style existed even before Solomon.
The site contained no statues or pig bones. That means the people who lived here followed the biblical commandment not to eat pork or keep graven images -- unlike their Canaanite or Philistine neighbors.
Earlier archaeologists also found the oldest Hebrew inscription at the site.
"Okay, so the ethnicity of the city is like Judah," he said.
So why are these discoveries important? Garfinkel said it disproves the argument from some scholars who say the Bible was written 800 years after King David, with no connection to real history.
"This is, I think, the strength of our argument -- that we have historical memories imbedded in the Hebrew Bible, and people cannot say David and Solomon are mythological figures. They were actually human beings," he said.
Garfinkel said the Bible and archaeology have to work together.