Scientists have re-created an ancient royal garden on a hilltop between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, at a site known as Ramat Rahel (see the attached picture)
During the 8th century BC, a royal citadel was built here by one of the kings of Judah. More than a hundred seal impressions of lamelekh (Hebrew, to the King), stamped on handles of storage jars were found. Scholars believe that is unusual and indicates that the site could be an administrative center of the Kingdom of Judah.
Towards the end of the 7th – beginning of the 6th century BC, a new royal citadel, much larger than its predecessor, was built on the site. It had an outer fortification system, and an inner citadel within the palace.The outer fortification system was composed of a massive, 3 – 4 m.-wide walls and it is believed that it was used for mustering troops and chariotry, See this site for an English embroidered version of the garden.
The real questions of what was the purpose of the garden and how did it relate to the overall architecture is really unknown. They did discover, using archaeological evidence and intact pollen grains, in the plaster lining of the 2,500-year-old garden, a sophisticated irrigation system, something like we have in supermarkers at the greens section.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University were able to reconstitute both the garden’s layout and its unique collection of both local and imported vegetation including:willow, poplar, birch, myrtle, water lilies, grape vines, figs, olives, Lebanese cedars, Persian walnuts—and citron.
“The whole garden is an enigma— as no one really knows who built it or much less it’s purpose,” project leader Yuval Gadot says. He adds, that this Iron Age palace, is the only such structure uncovered in Judea, and the Ramat Rachel site is the only garden to have been excavated in the Levant. Click here to see some of the garden.
MATI MILSTEIN, Archaeology Today, June 2012.
It seems now it is also a Hilton.