Artifact Called Link to Antiquity Fragment Is Evidence of King David's Dynasty, Archaeologist Says

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A fragment of a shattered monument that was found this summer is the first nonbiblical evidence of the dynasty founded by King David, an Israeli archaeologist said.

The words "King of Israel" and "House of David" appear in Aramaic script on the shattered stele, or monument. It was uncovered by Israeli archaeologists at Tel Dan in northern Israel.

Avraham Biran, the Israeli team leader, said Friday that the language and style of the fragment pointed to the ninth century B.C. At that time, David's great-great-grandson, Asa, King of Judah, paid the King of Aram to battle a rival Israeli leader. The battle is described in I Kings 15:18-19.

"This is a very important precedent," said Binyamin Mazar, who is the dean of Israeli archaeologists.

The earliest archaeological reference to a biblical figure until now has been to "the House of Omri," an Israelite king.

The 12 tribes of Israel split into two kingdoms after the reign of David's son, Solomon. Two tribes formed Judah in the south and the remaining 10 tribes formed Israel in the north. The Judean monarchy maintained the line of King David.

By the time of Asa's rule, Israel was encroaching on Judah's capital, Jerusalem. Asa emptied the national treasury to get Aram to attack Israel from the north.

The word "Hadad" also appears on the roughly one-foot-square fragment, Biran said. …