Archaeologists from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte recently unearthed clear evidence of the 587–586 B.C. Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem described in the Bible. The scientists working at the Mount Zion excavation site in Jerusalem found pottery and lamps typical of that time and an elegant gold and silver tassel or earring made in the shape of a cluster of grapes.
The objects suggest a wealthy Jewish family lived at the site. Side-by-side with those artifacts, the researchers also discovered ashes, burnt wood, and bronze and iron arrowheads typically used by Babylonian warriors of that period.
“The combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction,” Shimon Gibson, a UNC Charlotte professor of history, said. “Nobody abandons golden jewelry, and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”
According to the Biblical description of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the warriors looted and then burned King Solomon’s temple to the ground. Many people died, and Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar exiled most of those who survived.
Every year, Jews gather in synagogues around the world and at the remains of the temple’s Western Wall in Jerusalem to pray and fast in remembrance of the destruction of the temple, first by the Babylonians and then on the same day in A.D. 70 at the hands of Roman soldiers. The holy day, known as Tisha B’Av, falls on the ninth day in the Hebrew month of Av, which coincided with Aug. 11 this year. —J.B.