Archaeologists Find Artifacts From Babylonian Conquest of Jerusalem Chronicled in Bible

Photo Credit: UNC Charlotte

JERUSALEM — Archaeologists conducting a dig in Israel have uncovered artifacts and evidence confirming the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem as chronicled in the Old Testament of the Bible.

“It is very exciting to be able to excavate the material signature of any given historical event, and even more so regarding an important historical event such as the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem,” Rafi Lewis of Ashkelon Academic College, one of the project leaders, said in a statement.

Lewis and his team, which included professors from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNC), were conducting an excavation on a hill known as Mount Zion when they discovered layers of ash, along with shards of household pottery, lamps, an earring the shape of a cluster of grapes and iron arrowheads characteristic of those used by the Babylonians dating to about 500 B.C.

“The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found: pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period,” UNC explained in a post on its website.

“We know where the ancient fortification line ran, so we know we are within the city,” also outlined UNC Professor of History Shimon Gibson. “We know that this is not some dumping area, but the southwestern neighborhood of the Iron Age city. During the 8th century BC the urban area extended from the ‘City of David’ area to the southeast and as far as the Western Hill where we are digging.”

He also noted that while the ashen layer does not signify conquest in and of itself, put together with the other elements and the time period to which they date, everything adds up to point to the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians at approximately 587 B.C.

“[T]he combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction. Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse,” Gibson said.

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“The arrowheads are known as ‘Scythian arrowheads’ and  … are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors. Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 B.C.”

The team said that there appears to be the remains of a building buried under deeper layers, but it has yet to be uncovered.

2 Kings 25 chronicles the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. King Zedekiah, who the Bible says “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” was taken captive in brass fetters by Babylon during the siege and his eyes were blinded.

“And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came — he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about,” the chapter states.

“And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden … And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem. And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire.”

Windle and Lanser

Christian News Network reached out to the Pennsylvania-based Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) for their thoughts on the find.

“The recent discovery of a destruction layer at the Mount Zion Archaeological Project appears to affirm the biblical description of the fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar described in 2 Kings 25,” Bryan Windle, staff researcher and pastor at Island Bible Chapel in Ontario, Canada, stated.

He said that the artifacts found are those “one might expect to find in a home that had been destroyed in the way the Bible describes,” and that “[g]iven that the Bible has been shown time and again to be a historically reliable document, we would not be surprised to find more archaeological evidence unearthed of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C.”

Director Scott Lanser remarked that the discovery once again demonstrates the reliability of the Scriptures.

“We live in a skeptical age where the historical narratives of the Bible are summarily dismissed as unreliable, or avoided, due to fears that the authors of the Bible were contaminated with religious bias,” he lamented. “Strangely, what the skeptics overlook is that God commanded absolute honesty in every form of communication, and especially in reporting His sovereignty over historical events.”

“When a discovery of this magnitude is made — evidence for the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 587/586 B.C. — reports always end up focusing on the Bible,” Lanser noted, “like a ‘Wow, it looks like archaeology actually supports what we thought were myths in the Bible’ kind of attitude.”

“In reality, we need to return to the perspective that God can always be trusted to tell us the truth in the Bible,” he exhorted. “The evidence in this case is that the Babylonians attacked and burned Jerusalem, just as the Bible reports in 2 Kings 25:1-9. Once again, the Bible is exonerated from the claims of radical skepticism. Once again, we are reminded to trust every word that God has given to His people in the Scriptures.”

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