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Biblical Archaeology Review 2:1, March 1976

Found in Jerusalem: Remains of the Babylonian Siege

By Suzanne F. Singer

On the last day of his 1975 season Professor Nachman Avigad of Hebrew University, digging in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, discovered four arrowheads buried in ashes at the base of a massive stone defense tower. The tower was built by the Israelites more than 2600 years ago—before the Babylonian destruction of the city in 586 B.C. It had been constructed to protect Jerusalem’s vulnerable northern perimeter. The four arrowheads had fallen short of their mark, apparently hitting the outside wall of the tower. They came to rest in the ashes of the burning city—probably when soldiers of the Babylonian leader Nebuchadnezzar “came and burnt down the House of the Lord and the Royal palace and all the houses in Jerusalem … and the walls around Jerusalem were torn down …” (2 Kings 25:9–10).

The four arrowheads, one iron and three bronze, are thought to be the first remains ever recovered of the two-year Babylonian siege which finally broke the defenses of the starving city. (In the 1960’s British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon found several Israelite homes on the Ophel which had been burned during the Babylonian destruction of the city.)

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