JERUSALEM, July 20 (UPI) -- An Israeli archaeologist said he's uncovered palace ruins that once belonged to the Old Testament's King David.
The palace, at a site 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, is known as Khirbet Qeiyafa and includes a 10,000-square-foot fortified dwelling that archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said dates back to about 1000 B.C., the time it is thought the House of David ruled over the Israelite tribes.
Garfinkel contends the site was the seat of power for the Kingdom of Judah, ruled by the House of David, NBC News said Saturday.
A second structure discovered at the site is thought to have been a storeroom, possibly for taxes collected in the form of produce from local farmers.
The two buildings serve as "unequivocal evidence of a kingdom's existence," Garfinkel said. The palace was probably destroyed during a battle with the Philistines around 980 B.C.
Some biblical historians contend David was not as powerful as the Old Testament depicts. Skeptics have pointed out there exists no historical record outside scripture that proves the Bible's stories true, and some believe David was a fictional character derived from some tribal leaders at the time who attained folklore-type esteem.
Scientists also debate whether Garfinkel's claims are based in fact or wishful thinking.
David Willner, co-director of Foundation Stone, said Garfinkel was indulging in "unabashed sensationalism."
Others took a wait-and-see approach.
"Khirbet Qeiyafa is an undoubtedly important site, and we look forward to an imminent archaeological discussion on the newly uncovered palatial structure," said Noah Wiener, who writes the Bible History Daily blog.