Guided by the archaeologist’s fragmentary discoveries, an artist’s imagination fleshes out Jerusalem as Solomon would have seen it if he stood on the hill to the east, looking over the city to the still barren western hill now called Mt. Zion and north to the Temple Mount.

At the far right, on the exposed bedrock of the Temple Mount stands Solomon’s Temple (1). To its left is the royal palace complex (2) and the citadel (3). Although we have no remains to guide our reconstruction of these grand royal buildings erected on the crest of the hill, archaeologist Yigal Shiloh uncovered 44 feet of the stepped stone structure (4) that may well have supported the large public buildings.

Simple square houses built on terraces, some two-stories, cover the southern area of the hill within the city walls. Their appearance reflects archaeological remains of walls, stairways, and supporting pillars found in Israelite houses in Jerusalem. The houses also resemble 20th-century Arab homes still clustered terrace upon terrace in the village of Silwan on the hill just east of the City of David.

The first Jerusalem began on the steep, inhospitable hill pictured here, rather than on the higher, less precipitous hill to its west because a perennial spring watered the eastern hill, whereas on the west, the hill was dry. By the time of Solomon two systems were in place that used the waters of the Spring Gihon (5). A shaft (6), now called Warren’s shaft, gave safe access to the spring’s water from within the city walls. The water also ran into a conduit called the Siloam channel (7) that carried water south along the eastern flank of the hill to a storage pool (8) at the southern end of the city. Windows (9) in the channel allowed water to be released into the fields to water the village crops.

Archaeologist Yigal Shiloh describes Lloyd K. Townsend’s gouache and pencil rendering as “a very close restoration.” Shiloh notes that the flowing water and the lake-size pool may be somewhat exaggerated and the east-west wall connecting the upper and lower city walls may not be exactly where it was, but overall, the artist uses the archaeological data with care to reconstruct a scene we can never know precisely.