Watch: Evidence of Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem found

Days before Tisha B'Av fast, excavation unearths artifacts from Kingdom of Judea in 1st Temple period - and evidence of city's destruction.

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David Rosenberg, | updated: 12:00

Excavation site in City of David
Excavation site in City of David
Eliyahu Yanai, Courtesy of the City of David

Evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem and King Solomon’s Temple at the hands of the Babylonians was recently discovered in the City of David (Ir David) just south of the Old City of Jerusalem.

During excavations organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the City of David Foundation (Elad) on the eastern slope of the City of David), structures built more than 2,600 years ago were found; unearthed after being covered over by layers of collapsed stone.

Underneath the stone, excavators found artifacts from the First Temple period, including charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones, and pottery.

These findings, say researchers, hint at the affluence and character of Jerusalem, capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea. The artifacts also testify to the city's destruction at the hands of the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE.

Among the excavation's salient findings were dozens of storage jugs which stored both grain and liquids. Some of the jugs featured stamped handles with seals from the Kingdom of Judea.

Several of the seals discovered depict a rosette - a petalled rose. According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors: "These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the 'For the King' seal used in the earlier administrative system."

One distinct and rare finding is a small ivory statue of a female figure. The quality of the carving is high, attesting to the high caliber of the artist’s skill and the wealth of the statue’s owner.

According to Chalaf and Dr. Uziel, "The excavation's findings show that Jerusalem had extended beyond the line of the city wall before its destruction. The row of structures exposed in the excavations is located outside beyond the city wall that would have constituted the eastern border of the city during this period. Throughout the Iron Age, Jerusalem underwent constant growth, expressed both in the construction of numerous city walls and the fact that the city later spread beyond them. Excavations carried out in the past in the area of the Jewish Quarter have shown how the growth of the population at the end of the 8th Century BCE led the annexation of the western area of Jerusalem. In the current excavation, we may suggest that following the westward expansion of the city, structures were built outside of the wall’s border on the east as well."

Pottery found at City of David
Eliyahu Yanai, courtesy of City of David







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