Famous people who may never have existed

King David

You know the story of David and Goliath. It turns out David wasn’t just a one-sling wonder, as he grew up to become King David, a pretty big deal in the Bible. But it’s possible that King David wasn’t real, meaning he didn’t take down a giant with a single rock, a huge blow to underdogs everywhere.

According to King David: A Biography by Steven McKenzie (via the New York Times), a 1997 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education explained that, outside of the Bible, nobody talks about King David. As P. Kyle McCarter, a scholar quoted in the Chronicle, put it, “No ancient inscription mentions him. No archaeological discovery can be securely linked to him.” These words must’ve been uttered before 1993, though, because that year archaeologists unearthed the Tel Dan Stele, a monument found among the ruins of Dan that makes mention of the “House of David.” That, plus two additional slabs discovered over the next year, made it clear they were speaking of a royal David, not just some dude named Dave.

Of course, there’s no guarantee they’re speaking of THE King David. Much of the slab’s text remains undiscovered plus, as the Times points out, “House of David” was a title for all of Judah — it might not have referred to this one David. Also, the narration as we know it is super-vague, with no real details about who this David was, or what he did. It might’ve been the guy who slew the giant, or it could’ve been another King David. It’s not exactly an uncommon name.