Excavations at Lachish

But as for Hezekiah, the Jew, who did not bow in submission to my yoke, forty-six of his strong walled towns and innumerable smaller villages in their neighborhood I besieged and conquered by stamping down earth ramps and then by bringing up battering rams.

Thus claimed Sennacherib in his annals, found on a clay-baked prism. And the most important town of Judah he conquered was Lachish. The Assyrians certainly thought so. They immortalized their victory over Lachish on a great relief that graced the sides of one of the central rooms in Sennacherib’s “Palace without Rival” in Nineveh. On this relief we see a well-fortified city besieged by a great army, its citizens making the last desperate attempts to defend the city. But the defenses were breached. The relief shows captives pouring out of the city, Assyrian soldiers carrying the spoils of the conquest in a parade past Sennacherib, king of all, king of Assyria, seated on his throne.

The Bible also refers to Sennacherib’s attack:

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. So Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me and I will pay whatever you demand from me.” (2 Kings 18:13-14)

and

When the [Assyrian] field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah. (2 Kings 19:8)

The site of this great battle has been found, so many archaeologists agree. Tell-ed-Duweir, a large tell in the Shephelah—the rolling hill country between the high country of Judah and the coastal plain, has been identified as the ancient city of Lachish. W.F. Albright first made the suggestion in 1929. From 1932 to 1938 the Wellcome-Marston Archaeological Research Expedition to the Near East under the direction of James Lesley Starkey carried out excavations at Tell ed-Duweir. After the murder of Starkey in 1938, Olga Tufnell prepared the reports of the excavations. These volumes were published from 1952 in Great Britain. In 1966 and 1968 Professor Yohanan Aharoni of Tel Aviv University carried out excavations, particularly in the area of the “Solar Shrine”. David Ussishkin of Tel Aviv University directed renewed excavations at Tel ed-Duweir in 1973–1978, 1980–1981, 1983, 1985, and 1987. Yehuda Dagan supervised the city-gate reconstruction project in 1985–1992 and the National Park Project in 1993–1994. The city was destroyed by a violent destruction, leaving behind many of the rooms relatively well-preserved covered by debris and ash. It allowed archaeologists to get a clearer picture of the destruction and the life in the city at the time.

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This entry was posted in Archaeology, excavations, Judah, Lachish. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Excavations at Lachish

  1. Pingback: The fourth excavations at Lachish | Imagining the past: Archaeology and the Bible

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