According to the archaeological excavations at the site, the town was originally occupied in the late Neolithic era (c 4500 BCE), although at some time in the fourth millennium BC it was abandoned, for almost 1,000 years.
According to the Book of Judges: prior to the Tribe of Dan occupying the land, the town was known as Laysha (Judges 18:7 and Isaiah , לישה) or Laish (elsewhere Judges 18) - which root the Hebrew poets applied also to the lion (Job , Proverbs and Isaiah 30:5). This might indicate they were Phoenicians (Sidonians were Phoenicians from the city of Sidon), who may or may not have been Canaanite.
The stele was discovered just as the debate concerning whether David and Solomon had ever existed was reaching an initial crescendo among scholars. While some scholars argued that it was indeed a mighty capital city, as described by the Bible, others believed that it was simply a small “cow town.” In fact, it is still not clear where David is positioned along the continuum from tribal chieftains to mighty kings and just how large the city itself was during his time.
At a single blow, the finding of this inscription settled the question of whether David was an actual historical person, at least in the minds of most scholars. Temple Mount and City of David Aerial - photo Bible During her excavations in Jerusalem after 1961, Kathleen Kenyon discovered the remains of what archaeologists call the “Stepped Stone Structure” in an area that is just outside the walls of the Old City.
Most Biblical scholars The Bible describes the Tribe of Dan brutally defeating the people of Laish and burning the town to the ground, and then building their own town in the same spot.
According to Judges concerning Micah's Idol, the Tribe of Dan did not at that point have any territory to their name (Judges 18:1), and so, after scouting out the land, eventually decided to attack Laish, as the land around it was fertile, and the town was demilitarised.
A hitherto unknown earlier gateway to the city was uncovered.
The entrance complex led to a courtyard paved with stone with a low stone platform.
The problem at the moment is that although the Tel Dan Stele—fragments of which were discovered in 19—now presents us with the first known, and earliest, extra-biblical textual attestation for the House of David (Beit David), there is little other direct textual or archaeological evidence available for either king at the moment. However, we are still lacking any contemporary or nearly-contemporary inscriptions which mention Solomon; at the moment we do not have a single one, although this situation could change tomorrow, or next week, or next year (or never).
Thus the debate continues to the present, despite—and in some cases because of—the introduction of a variety of new data. Moreover, there is still very little archaeological evidence for the existence of David, as has been made clear during the debate about biblical minimalism, especially with regard to David and the extent of his empire.