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Rare Jewel Found on Mt. Zion Reveals Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem

Updated: Aug 14, 2019


Earring or tassel ornament made of gold and silver from the destruction layer of 587/586 BCE, Mt. Zion Mt Zion Archaeological Expedition/Virginia Withers

Haaretz.com, Ruth Schuster, August 11, 2019


First Temple-era Jerusalem was bigger than thought, archaeologists say, adding: ‘Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse’


A unique fragment of finely worked gold and silver seemingly torn from a larger artifact, found on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, bears silent testimony to the violence 2,605 years ago when Babylonian forces quashed a rebellion by the vassal king of Judah and destroyed the city, burning it to the ground. The tiny piece found in the 2019 excavation season, whose discovery was announced Saturday night, lends credence to biblical descriptions of Jerusalem’s riches before its obliteration by an infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar in the year 586 B.C.E.


The international team, led by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, also found more evidence of the conflagration in the form of ash layers on Mount Zion itself, adding to evidence previous reports that a destruction layer from the Babylonians had been found below Temple Mount. They also unearthed what seems to have been a significant structure from the Iron Age – the first time major architecture from that time has been found on the “western hill,” aka Mount Zion. That building, which lies beneath archaeological layers from later periods, has yet to be excavated, the team tells Haaretz, but they hope to do that next year.


Meanwhile, the discoveries now reported by the Mount Zion Archaeological Project bolster the hypothesis that Iron Age Jerusalem had been a sprawling city, not some hilltop village, suggest UNC Charlotte professors Shimon Gibson and James Tabor and Dr. Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow at Haifa University.


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