After 15 years of excavation, the spring citadel in the City of David will be opened to visitors
After 15 years of archaeological excavation, which was defined as one of the most complex and special ever conducted in Israel, the uncovering of an enormous Canaanite citadel, dating to the 18th century BCE, was completed. The citadel that was excavated in the City of David National Park was uncovered slowly, because together with the hard work of dozens of workers led by Prof. Roni Reich from the University of Haifa and Eli Shukrun from the Antiquities Authority, the site continued to host hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, without the excavation preventing such visits.
The “Spring Citadel” protects the biblical Gihon Spring by a huge fortification, which isolates the access to the spring and thereby allows access to the waters of the Gihon only to those coming from the west, from within the city. So far, this is the largest citadel found among the Canaanite cities of the aforementioned period in Israel, and in fact, it appears to be the largest citadel found in Israel up until the time of King Herod.
According to the book of Samuel 2, chapter 5, King David conquered the “Fortress of Zion” from the hands of the Jebusite king and his men. From the extensive excavations, a new insight is acquired, such that it is possible that it was this impressive citadel that David’s warriors penetrated when they came to conquer Jerusalem from the Jebusites.
At the beginning of the first book of Kings, Solomon’s reign “on Gihon” is recounted, and the Bible describes his anointing as king by Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest. This ceremony apparently took place right here in the heart of the “Spring Citadel”, above the source of the Gihon Spring.
Excavations at the biblical Hill of the City of David began by the British Palestine Exploration Foundation (P.E.F) under the leadership of the British Captain Charles Warren as early as 1867, but the first excavator who penetrated into the thick of the Canaanite citadel, without being aware of it at the time, was a treasure hunter and romantic named Brownlow Montague Parker, who between the years 1911-1909 searched vigorously for the Ark of the Covenant and the treasures of King Solomon, right here in the heart of the enormous Canaanite citadel in the City of David.
The excavation led by Parker was conducted in complete secrecy while he bribed the Turkish officials to allow him to dig at the site. In May 1911, the excavation was discovered by a diligent guard, who was not in the circle of bribe recipients. Parker had to run for his life and fled to Cyprus on a yacht waiting for him at the port of Jaffa. The remains of the trenches dug by Parker and his men about 100 years ago can be seen today in the upper part of the citadel.
These days, the “Fortress of the Spring” has been restored, and recently opened to host the travelers who are invited to enjoy an experiential visit rich in illustrative means, which allow visitors to go back to biblical times for a few minutes, while getting acquainted with a wonderful and impressive architectural achievement, established by the ancient Canaanites about 3800 years ago.
The visit to the “Spring Citadel” is part of the comprehensive tour of the biblical City of David, after which the visitors are invited to continue and enjoy an exciting walk by lantern light in the cool waters of the ancient Tunnel of Siloam (Hezkiah’s Tunnel), or choose the dry Canaanite canal that will lead them to the continuation of the exciting route.
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