The problem at the moment is that although the Tel Dan Stele—fragments of which were discovered in 19—now presents us with the first known, and earliest, extra-biblical textual attestation for the House of David (Beit David), there is little other direct textual or archaeological evidence available for either king at the moment. However, we are still lacking any contemporary or nearly-contemporary inscriptions which mention Solomon; at the moment we do not have a single one, although this situation could change tomorrow, or next week, or next year (or never).Thus the debate continues to the present, despite—and in some cases because of—the introduction of a variety of new data. Moreover, there is still very little archaeological evidence for the existence of David, as has been made clear during the debate about biblical minimalism, especially with regard to David and the extent of his empire.The stele was discovered just as the debate concerning whether David and Solomon had ever existed was reaching an initial crescendo among scholars. While some scholars argued that it was indeed a mighty capital city, as described by the Bible, others believed that it was simply a small “cow town.” In fact, it is still not clear where David is positioned along the continuum from tribal chieftains to mighty kings and just how large the city itself was during his time.
Two more fragments came to light the following summer, in 1994, and the three fragments now form what is left of the Tel Dan Stele. However, it is by no means clear whether this is actually David’s palace.
It is possible that more will be found in the future. Although Mazar claims to have excavated a large building, it is not yet definite that it is from the tenth century.
In fact, Israel Finkelstein and three other archaeologists from Tel Aviv University argue that it is not.
Instead, they assert, on the basis of construction techniques and structural differences, in addition to pottery and other finds, that the walls unearthed by Mazar do not belong to a single building but rather to several, and that the pottery and other remains indicate that the Stepped Stone Structure represents at least two phases of construction—with the lower part possibly dating to the ninth century BCE and the upper part dating to the Hellenistic period.
It seems that the original inscription, which had been inscribed and erected at Tel Dan in about 842 BCE, had later been taken down and broken into fragments, some of which were eventually reused in the wall. Her excavations have uncovered massive walls, which she identified as the remains of a building that she called the “Large Stone Structure” and which she said was part of a complex that included the Stepped Stone Structure on the slope.
It was only because of the raking light of the afternoon sun that she could see the inscribed letters, which had been missed by all previous members of the excavation team, including the volunteers who had excavated the wall of which the stone was now a part. She identifies this complex as the palace of King David, in part because of its location and the date of the associated pottery, which she regards as dating to the tenth century BCE.
As it is currently reconstructed, the inscription describes the defeat of both Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziyahu, king of Judah, by a king of Aram-Damascus in the ninth century BCE. ] of my kingdom; and I slew seve[nty ki]ngs, who harnessed thou[sands of cha]riots and thousands of horsemen. And even if it is from the tenth century, it is not certain whether it is from the time of David.
It reads in part: Now the king of Israel entered formerly in the land in my father’s land; [but] Hadad made me myself king, and Hadad went in front of me; [and] I departed from [the] seven [ . [And I killed Jo]ram, son of A[hab,] king of Israel, and [I] killed [Ahazi]yahu, son of [Joram, kin]g of the House of David; and I set [their towns into ruins ? And even if it is from the time of David, it is not unquestionably a palace.
If Mazar’s new building ends up not being associated with David, then there is currently not a single structure in all of Israel which may be definitely linked to his building program, if indeed he even had one.
Palace of David Area, Large Stone Wall - photo Bible Finkelstein has been a major player in recent discussions concerning the precise dating of both artifacts and events purportedly dating to the time of David and Solomon.
And, in one level at Hazor, Yadin and his team located a six-chambered city gate and part of a casemate wall (consisting of parallel inner and outer defensive walls connected by internal constructions to create small rooms that function both as part of the wall and as storage or living spaces), which he attributed to Solomon.