Exhibit Update: ‘Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered’

OKLAHOMA—“Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered,” an archaeological exhibit at Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, welcomed its 2,700th visitor in June. Since the February 25 grand opening on the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus in Edmond, visitors have come from 31 American states, as well as from Australia, Canada, Columbia, France, the Netherlands, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.

Sponsored by the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology and the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation, in association with the Israel Antiquities Authority, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Israel Museum of Jerusalem, the exhibit showcases 46 artifacts from Jerusalem, Lachish, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Timna and other areas of Israel, dating to the 10th Century B.C.E.

The Bible portrays King David and King Solomon’s kingdom as extensive in territory and monumental in architecture. “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” is designed to gather the physical evidence that corroborates that portrayal.

Upon entering the exhibit in the auditorium lobby, visitors see an official replica of the Tel-Dan Stele, a monument fragment inscribed with a reference to “the House of David.” Next is a collection of Philistine and Judean pottery from Khirbet Qeiyafa, followed by the Ophel Pithos inscription, the oldest alphabetical inscription ever discovered in Jerusalem. At the opposite end of the exhibit are a section of a Phoenician capital, the Khirbet Qeiyafa Stone Shrine Model, a Phoenician-style electrum basket pendant, dyed textiles from Timna and a miniature model of Jerusalem at the time of King Solomon. The space is surrounded by replica city walls and pillars, and guests can also explore sites in modern Jerusalem using virtual reality headsets.

Corresponding with the exhibit’s opening, the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology published “David and Solomon’s Monumental Kingdom,” a special 128-page exhibit edition of Let the Stones Speak. (More about the magazine, which was established in 2022 and recently became available in the Hebrew language, is available here.)

Announced in the September-October 2023 issue of Let the Stones Speak, the exhibithas also been promoted with institute videos and in the February and April issues of the Philadelphia Trumpetmagazine and on the Trumpet Daily. Institute founder and chairman Gerald Flurry’s grand opening keynote address appeared as a Key of David program.

Israeli media such as All Israel News, Haaretz and the Times of Israel have covered the exhibit, particularly the Phoenician basket pendant. A reporter from the Oklahoman visited and covered the exhibit, and it was also covered by PR Newswire, Travel and Tour World and Religion Unplugged. Edmond Outlook, Metro Family Magazine, Visit Edmond, and Biblical Archaeology Review have included advertisements.

A total of 768 people visited the exhibit during opening weekend, and the total number of visitors to date is 2,738. Many have said they heard about the exhibit through word of mouth, some from friends and family who are Armstrong International Cultural Foundation season ticket holders, and some who have been to past exhibits and concerts at Armstrong Auditorium. A number also saw television advertisements for the exhibit that aired in local markets during the showing of the film TheTen Commandments in April, as well as interview on February 20 with exhibit curator Brad Macdonald and co-curator Brent Nagtegaal on KFOR-TV.

The day of the week with the greatest number of visitors is Friday, despite the shorter hours that the exhibit is open, accounting for almost 30% of visitors came on Fridays. The busiest week so far came in June, with 214 visitors.

Many visitors have expressed amazement and gratitude regarding the exhibit and Auditorium. One was author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who found out about the exhibit through a shared acquaintance who is an archaeologist and received a two-hour tour during a visit to Armstrong Auditorium that also included a performance of Celtic Throne and a speech he delivered about current events.

A visitor from Arlington, Texas said, “This exhibit is very well done. It is a blessing, and I hope people realize how rare it is to see these artifacts.”

One couple from Los Angeles said, “It’s amazing how these artifacts make the Bible come to life!”

A couple from Texas said they were shocked that the exhibit and Let the Stones Speak magazine are free. One stated, before even touring the exhibit, “Wow, no one hardly ever does that anymore. The grounds are beautiful. We’re four hours away, and we’re glad we came.”

Upon entering Armstrong Auditorium, one group stated that they felt like they “stumbled in Narnia,” and were moved by the exhibit and Auditorium.

One season ticket holder brought nine of her friends and family from Chicago, California, and Las Vegas. “I’ve been coming to concerts for the past 10 years,” she said, “and I wanted to show them the beauty of this building.”

This exhibit is staffed by 32 tour guides from the Armstrong College student body and the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation staff. Guides studied the “David and Solomon’s Monumental Kingdom” exhibit edition of Let the Stones Speak, took an hour-long test and were placed into three tiers based on their grade, knowledge, and experience.

Guide Peter van Halteren says that he gets excited to see visitors “come in and be stunned and amazed at how much evidence there is, and how they’ve never seen anything like this before …. They can tell that this is something special.”

Guide Parker Campbell said he feels encouraged and inspired after seeing visitors receive a guided tour with a ready mind and leave with a genuine gratitude for the exhibit. “It’s not just about the artifacts. It’s also about connecting with a variety of people …” he said. “Both the exhibit and the auditorium’s elegance exceed their expectations, and as they tour along the exhibit, they find truth, hope and inspiration.”

Marianna Balaa said, “I love it when visitors are interested in both the exhibit and the Work,” she said. “It keeps me on my toes and gets me thinking more deeply about how to be ready to give an answer.”

“Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” follows “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered,” which opened at Armstrong Auditorium in 2012, showcasing artifacts from two princes of the Kingdom of Judah who imprisoned the Prophet Jeremiah, along with other First Temple period artifacts from Israel, for a total of 4,592 visitors. “Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah Discovered,” opened in 2018, displaying artifacts from Isaiah and King Hezekiah along with other artifacts conveying the conflict between the Assyrian Empire and the Kingdom of Judah in the 8th Century B.C.E., for a total of 7,898 visitors.

In addition to hosting archaeological exhibits, Armstrong Auditorium has hosted Israeli consulate officials Daniel Agranov, Guy Cohen, Yoram Ettinger, Eitan Levon, Meir Shlomo, Ben Stinsman and Belaynesh Zevadia. Avital Mazar-Tsairi, sister of the late Dr. Eilat Mazar, helped deliver artifacts for the auditorium’s first exhibit, and Hebrew University biblical archaeology professor Yosef Garfinkel spoke in 2022 about excavations including Khirbet Qeiyafa. Israel Museum curator of Iron Age and Persian Period archaeology Pirchia Eyall and Israel Antiquities Authority head of international exhibitions department Orit Shamir attended and spoke during the grand opening of the “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered.”

Other visitors to Armstrong Auditorium have included British journalist Melanie Phillips, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, U.S. Senator James Lankford, Azerbaijan Ambassador Elin Suleymanov, and permanent representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations Yashar Aliyev. More recently, General Michael Flynn had visited twice for interviews with Trumpet Daily host Stephen Flurry, watched Celtic Throne, toured the exhibit, delivered a public address about current events and played his film, Flynn: Deliver the Truth. Whatever the Cost. U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake and journalist Lara Logan have also visited for Trumpet Daily interviews.

On June 30, the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation will host Israeli-born musicians Inon Barnatan, Itamar Zorman, and Amit Peled for a concert celebrating the exhibit. “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” will be open through Jan. 17, 2025.