Ir David or the City of David is the earliest site in Jerusalem, dating from before the days of the First Temple (1000-586 BCE), and is located south of the Old City walls of today, in the heart of the Arab neighborhood of Silwan. The first settlement in the area of the City of David dates from the Chalcolithic Period (4500-3300 BCE) and has been almost continually settled up to the present, for 6,000 years. During the First Israelite Period (1200-1000 BCE) the Canaanite city of Jebus was located here until it was conquered by King David at about 1000 BCE and became Jerusalem.
During the days of King David’s heirs, the city expanded towards today’s Old City but after the Bar-Kochba revolt (132-135 CE), the Roman Caesar Hadrian established the pagan Roman city of Aelia Capitolina on the site of Jerusalem. From then on, the City of David was outside the urban limits. During the Mameluke period (1260-1516 CE), the Arab village of Silwan was established on the site. When settlement began outside the walls of the Old City, the village was annexed to the city and became one of its neighborhoods. In 1884 a group Jews who had arrived from Yemen in 1882-3 settled in the area and established Kfar Shiloah, named after the Shiloah stream nearby. The village was abandoned after harassment by the Arabs which peaked during the Great Arab Revolt in 1936-1939.
Due to the historic importance of the City of David, archaeological excavations were carried out by the British, and after the city of Jerusalem was united, following the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli archaeologists methodically researched the area. Due to the important findings discovered in the excavations, the City of David site was declared a national park and it is presently a must for visitors to Jerusalem. A visit should begin by watching the short film which presents the story of the site. The tour then starts underground, at the ancient water system dating from the First Temple period, called Warren’s Shaft, and named for the British archaeologist Charles Warren who discovered it in 1867. An additional water system was the Shiloah Tunnel. We can wade into the cool water and, with flashlights, walk through the channel which is 533 meters in length, an unprecedented engineering enterprise which succeeded in bringing the water of the Shiloah springs into the city of Jerusalem, and which served as a means of defense in times of war and siege. In addition, remains of structures and defensive fortifications have been discovered from the Canaanite and the Israelite periods. One of the important findings of recent years has been a monumental building which has been dated to the tenth century BCE and is believed to be the palace of King David.