Zev Radovan

The stepped-stone structure was built by the Jebusites in the 14th or 13th century B.C.E. Preserved to a height of nearly 50 feet, the structure stands on the City of David’s northeastern slope, which descends precipitously to the Kidron Valley. The interior was filled with rock and earth to serve as a foundation for a platform that added about 2,000 square feet to the top of the ridge. On this platform the Jebusites appear to have built their citadel—the most likely candidate for the Fortress of Zion (2 Samuel 5:9), where David lived after conquering the city but before building his own palace.

If the Fortress of Zion stood just within the city’s north wall, then we may have a clue as to the location of David’s palace. When the Philistines threatened to attack the city, David left his palace and “went down to the fortress” (2 Samuel 17)—indicating, according to Eilat Mazar, that the palace stood on higher ground than the fortress. Thus the palace must have been built outside the city, probably on the other side of its northern wall. Mazar suggests that David’s palace stood near a trench (Site H) cut by archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1960s.