By Michael Havis For Mailonline
Published: 15:12 BST, 4 September 2020 | Updated: 15:37 BST, 4 September 2020
Archaeologists have unearthed the magnificent stone remains of a 2,500-year-old royal palace outside the walls of Jerusalem that was — curiously — carefully buried.
The remains — which include ornate 'capitals' that would have topped stone columns — date to the time of the Kings of Judah, archaeologists have determined.
The palace would have overlooked King Solomon's Temple in the heart of Jerusalem, but is believed to have been destroyed in 586 BC by Babylonian invaders.
The remains — which include ornate 'capitals' that would have topped stone columns, pictured — date to the time of the Kings of Judah, archaeologists have determined
Archaeologists have unearthed the magnificent stone remains of a 2,500-year-old royal palace (illustrated) outside the walls of Jerusalem that was — curiously — carefully buried
According to the experts, the so-called 'proto-Aeolian' style seen on the capitals was typical of royal buildings — raising the possibility that the palace belonged to a king.
'This is a very exciting discovery. The level of workmanship on these capitals is the best seen to date, and the degree of preservation of the items is rare,' said lead archaeologist Yaakov Billig of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
However, the archaeologists are puzzled as to why these parts of the palace were neatly buried and thereby preserved, when the rest was plundered.
'At this point it is still difficult to say who hid the capitals in the way they were discovered and why they did so,' Professor Billig explained.
'There is no doubt that this is one of the mysteries at this unique site to which we will try to offer a solution,' he added.
Experts believe that the palace was built at some point between the failed Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC and the destruction of the city by the Babylonian forces of Nebuchadnezzar II in approximately 586 BC.