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Saturday, Feb 02, 2002

my kingdom for a source

"Just off the path stands a massive stone gate that once marked the entrance to the city. A sign placed in front of it by Israeli tourist authorities reads "Solomonic gate, 970-930 B.C." Ussishkin looks at it and laughs. "This is nonsense, utter nonsense," he tells a visitor. "The gate is from 200 years later. Solomon must be turning in his grave." For the past several years, Ussishkin, along with fellow Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein and Near Eastern historian Baruch Halpern of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, has been co-directing an extensive dig at Megiddo. And some of the findings have set off a battle among archaeologists working in Israel. At issue is whether the biblical picture of a major Israelite state in Palestine, founded by King David and greatly expanded by Solomon, reflects the historical reality of Israelite settlement in this region."