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Tel Lachish
Tel Lachish
(Hebrew: תל לכיש‎; Greek: Λαχις; Latin: Tel Lachis), is the site of an ancient Near East city, now an archaeological site and an Israeli national park. Lachish is located in the Shephelah
Shephelah
region of Israel
Israel
between Mount Hebron
Mount Hebron
and the Mediterranean coast. It is first mentioned in the Amarna letters
Amarna letters
as Lakisha-Lakiša (EA 287, 288, 328, 329, 335). According to the Bible, the Israelites
Israelites
captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Joshua 10:31-33). The territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah (15:39) and became part of the Kingdom of Israel. Of the cities in ancient Judah, Lachish was second in importance only to Jerusalem.[1] One of the Lachish letters
Lachish letters
warns of the impending Babylonian destruction. It reads: "Let my lord know that we are watching over the beacon of Lachish, according to the signals which my lord gave, for Azekah is not seen." According to the prophet Jeremiah, Lachish and Azekah were the last two Judean cities before the conquest of Jerusalem
Jerusalem
(Jer. 34:7). This pottery inscription can be seen at the Israel
Israel
Museum in Jerusalem.[2]

Contents

1 History 2 Biblical references 3 Identification 4 Archaeology

4.1 Paleo-Hebrew letters on ostraca 4.2 LMLK seals

5 See also 6 References 7 See also 8 Further reading 9 External links

History[edit]

Commander's palace.

Assyrian siege ramp.

Judean captives being led away into slavery by the Assyrians after the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C. This relief is important for the knowledge of Judean dress.

Occupation at the site of Lachish began during the Pottery Neolithic period (5500–4500 BCE). Major development began in the Early Bronze Age (3300–3000 BCE).[1] During the Middle Bronze II (2000–1650 BCE), the Canaanite settlement came under strong Egyptian influence. The next peak was the late Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
(1650–1200 BCE), when Lachish is mentioned in the Amarna letters. This phase of the city was destroyed in a fire ca. 1150 BCE. The city, under protection of the New Kingdom of Egypt, was rebuilt by the Caananites. One of the two discovered temples was built at the northwest corner of the mound, outside the city limits and within the disused moat, which led the archaeologists to call it the Fosse Temple. However, this settlement was soon destroyed by another fire, perhaps from an invasion by the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
or Israelites. The mound was abandoned for two centuries.[1] Rebuilding of the city began in the Early Iron Age
Iron Age
during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE when it was settled by the Israelites. The unfortified settlement may have been destroyed c. 925 BCE by Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonk I.[1] In the first half of the 9th century BCE, under the kings Asa and Jehoshaphat, Lachish became an important city in the kingdom of Judah. It was heavily fortified with massive walls and ramparts and a royal palace was built on a platform in the center of the city.[1] Lachish was the foremost among several fortified cities and strongholds guarding the valleys that lead up to Jerusalem
Jerusalem
and the interior of the country against enemies which usually approached from the coast.

The single inscription which identifies the location depicted in the reliefs reads: "Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the throne of judgment, before (or at the entrance of) the city of Lachish (Lakhisha). I give permission for its slaughter"

In 701 BCE, during the revolt of king Hezekiah
Hezekiah
against Assyria, it was besieged and captured by Sennacherib
Sennacherib
despite the defenders' determined resistance.[3] Some scholars believe that the fall of Lachish actually occurred during a second campaign in the area by Sennacherib
Sennacherib
ca. 688 BCE.[citation needed] The site now contains the only remains of an Assyrian siege ramp discovered so far. Sennacherib
Sennacherib
later devoted a whole room in his "Palace without a rival", the South-west palace in Nineveh, for artistic representations of the siege on large alabaster slabs, most of which are now on display in the British Museum. They hold depictions of Assyrian siege ramps, battering rams, sappers, and other siege machines and army units, along with Lachish's architecture and its final surrender. In combination with the archaeological finds, they give a good understanding of siege warfare of the period.[4] So much attention was given to the success at Lachish also because, unlike it, Jerusalem managed to withstand Sennacherib's onslaught. The town was rebuilt in the late 7th century BCE during the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, the city fell to Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign against Judah in 586 BCE. Modern excavation of the site has revealed that the Assyrians built a stone and dirt ramp up to the level of the Lachish city wall, thereby allowing the soldiers to charge up the ramp and storm the city. Excavations revealed approximately 1,500 skulls in one of the caves near the site, and hundreds of arrowheads on the ramp and at the top of the city wall, indicating the ferocity of the battle. The city occupied an area of 8 hectares (20 acres) and was finally destroyed in 587 BCE.[5] Residents were exiled as part of the Babylonian captivity.[1] During Babylonian occupation, a large residence was built on the platform that had once supported the Israeli palace. At the end of the captivity, some exiled Jews returned to Lachish and built a new city with fortifications. Under the Babylonian or Achaemenid Empire, a large altar (known as the Solar Shrine) on the east section of the mound was built. The shrine was abandoned after the area fell in the hands of Alexander the Great. The tell has been unoccupied since then.[1] Biblical references[edit] Lachish is mentioned in several books in the Hebrew Bible. The Book of Joshua refers to Lachish in chapter 10 (verses 3, 5, 23, and 31-35), describing the Israelite conquest of Caanan. Japhia, the King of Lachish, is listed as one of the Five Amorite
Amorite
Kings that allied to repel the invasion. After a surprise attack from the Israelites, the kings took refuge in a cave, where they were captured and put to death. Joshua and the Israelites
Israelites
then took the city of Lachish after a two-day siege, exterminating the populace. In 12:11, the King of Lachish is mentioned as one of the thirty-one kings conquered by Joshua. The city is assigned to the Tribe of Judah
Tribe of Judah
in 15:39 as part of the western foothills. Rehoboam son of Solomon's fortifications of Lachish are recorded in II Chronicles (11:9). In II Kings (14:19) and II Chronicles 25:27, Amaziah of Judah
Amaziah of Judah
flees to Lachish after he was defeated by Jehoash of Israel, where he is captured and executed. The Book of Micah
Book of Micah
(1:13) warns the residents of Lachish that the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians will soon spread to Judah. II Kings 18:14 mentions the Siege of Lachish; Hezekiah
Hezekiah
sends a message there offering tribute to Sennacherib
Sennacherib
in exchange for the city. In verse 17, the Assyrians leave Lachish and head to Jerusalem
Jerusalem
to begin the unsuccessful Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem. This is also mentioned in II Chronicles 32:9 and Isaiah 36:2. The Israelites
Israelites
learn of the departure of the Assyrians from Lachish in II Kings 19:8 and Isaiah 37:8. The Book of Jeremiah
Book of Jeremiah
(34:7) lists Lachish as one of the last three fortified cities in Judah to fall to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. In the Book of Nehemiah
Book of Nehemiah
(11:30) Lachish is mentioned as an area where the people of Judah settled during the time of the Achaemenid Empire. The Assyrian campaign against Lachish is documented in a series of wall reliefs, now on display in the British Museum. Identification[edit] During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Lachish was identified with Tell el-Hesi
Tell el-Hesi
from a cuneiform tablet found there (EA 333). The tablet is a letter from an Egyptian official named Paapu, reporting cases of treachery involving a local kinglet, Zimredda. However this hypothesis is no longer accepted.[6] The Starkey-Tufnell expedition identified Tell ed-Duweir as Lachish. Archaeology[edit] The first expedition at Lachish, then Tell ed-Duweir, from 1932 to 1939, was the Starkey-Tufnell[7] British expedition which included James Leslie Starkey as expedition leader, Olga Tufnell, G.L. Harding and C. Inge.[8] It was funded by Charles Marston and Henry Wellcome with the aim of finding the Biblical city of Lachish.[9] They succeeded in finding Lachish, with a "wealth of well-stratified pottery", a "key part of the ceramic corpus of Palestine",[8] and the Lachish Letters, c. "written to the commander of the garrison at Lachish shortly before it fell to the Babylonians in either 589 or 586 B.C."[8] Starkey was murdered in 1938 while traveling to Jerusalem
Jerusalem
to open the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum. Tufnell, Harding and Inge remained for the 1938-9 season. Tufnell returned to London and over the next two decades, worked at the Institute of Archaeology in London, "sorting, collating, studying and presenting the material found at Lacshish. She completed her final publication Lachish IV in 1957. She became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Society of Antiquaries of London
in 1951.[10][11][7][12][13] The second was an Israeli expedition directed by Yohanan Aharoni that took place over two seasons in 1966 and 1968.[7] The dig, which focused mainly on the "Solar Shrine", was worked on behalf of Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.[1] Aharoni published the findings in his 1975 publication, Investigations at Lachish: The sanctuary and the residency.[14] The third expedition, 1973 and 1994, by a Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology and Israel
Israel
Exploration Society team was led by David Ussishkin.[15]:1-97[16]:97-175[17]:3-60 Excavation and restoration work was conducted between 1973 and 1994 by a Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology and Israel
Israel
Exploration Society team led by David Ussishkin. The excavation focused on the Late Bronze (1550–1200 BCE) and Iron Age
Iron Age
(1200–587 BCE) levels.[1] The Issishkin expedition's comprehensive 5-volume report set a new standard in archaeological publication. According to Yosef Garfinkel, "The Starkey-Tufnell and Ussishkin expeditions set new standards in excavation and publication. They revolutionized our understanding of various aspects of Lachish, such as the later history of Judah and the pre-Israelite Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
Canaanite city."[7] In 2013, a fourth expedition to Lachish was begun under the direction of Yosef Garfinkel, Michael G. Hasel, and Martin G. Klingbeil to investigate the Iron Age
Iron Age
history of the site on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University
Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, and the Institute of Archaeology, Southern Adventist University. Other consortium institutions include Virginia Commonwealth University, Oakland University
Oakland University
and Korea Biblical Geography Research Institute.[18][19] In 2014, during the Fourth Expedition to Lachish, a small potsherd with letters from a 12th century BCE alphabet, was found in the ruins of a Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
temple. One researcher called it, a “once in a generation” find.[20][21] The Korean Lachish Excavation Team led by Hong Soon-hwa, reported that they had "uncovered a wide range of 10th century BC items, from houses with earthenware items and cooking stoves, to animal bones, olive seeds, spearheads, fortress walls and other objects" on July 5, 2017.[22][23] An expedition found indications of Hezekiah's position against idolatry.[24] Paleo-Hebrew letters on ostraca[edit] Main article: Lachish letters The first archaeological expedition, the Starkey-Starkey-Tufnell (1932-9) uncovered the Lachish letters, which were "written to the commander of the garrison at Lachish shortly before it fell to the Babylonians in either 589 or 586 B.C."[8] The Hebrew letters were written on pieces of pottery, so-called ostraca. Eighteen letters were found in 1935 and three more in 1938, all written in Paleo-Hebrew script. They were from the latest occupational level immediately before the Chaldean siege of 587 BC. At the time, they formed the only known corpus of documents in classical Hebrew that had come down to us outside of the Hebrew Bible.[25][26] LMLK seals[edit] Another major contribution to Biblical archaeology
Biblical archaeology
from excavations at Lachish are the LMLK seals, which were stamped on the handles of a particular form of ancient storage jar. More of these artifacts were found at this site (over 400; Ussishkin, 2004, pp. 2151–9) than any other place in Israel
Israel
( Jerusalem
Jerusalem
remains in second place with more than 300). Most of them were collected from the surface during Starkey's excavations, but others were found in Level 1 (Persian and Greek era), Level 2 (period preceding Babylonian conquest by Nebuchadnezzar), and Level 3 (period preceding Assyrian conquest by Sennacherib). It is thanks to the work of David Ussishkin's team that eight of these stamped jars were restored, thereby demonstrating lack of relevance between the jar volumes (which deviated as much as 5 gallons or 12 litres), and also proving their relation to the reign of Biblical king Hezekiah.[27] Ussishkin observed that "The renewed excavations confirmed Tufnell’s suggestion that Level III had been destroyed in 701 BCE. All the royal storage jars, stamped and unstamped alike, date to the reign of Hezekiah, to shortly before the Assyrian conquest.'[28] The 1898 Reference by Bliss, contains numerous drawings, including examples of Phoenician, etc. pottery, and items from pharaonic Egypt, and other Mediterranean, and inland regions. See also[edit]

Archaeology of Israel

References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g h i King, Philip J. (August 2005). "Why Lachish Matters". Biblical Archaeology Review. 31 (4). Retrieved November 18, 2013.  ^ Schaalje, Jacqueline. "Lachish". The Jewish Magazine. Archaeology in Israel.  ^ David Ussishkin, The conquest of Lachish by Sennacherib, Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology, 1982, ISBN 965-266-001-9 ^ William H. Shea, Sennacherib's Description of Lachish and of its Conquest, Andrews University Seminary Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 171-180, 1988 ^ Samuel, Rocca (2012). The Fortifications of Ancient Israel
Israel
and Judah 1200–586 BC. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 9781782005216.  ^ Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, Tell el Hesy (Lachish), Published for the Committee of the Palestine exploration fund by A. P. Watt, 1891 ^ a b c d Garfinkel, Yosef; Hasel, Michael; Klingbeil, Martin G. (December 2013). "An Ending and a Beginning: Why we're leaving Qeiyafa and going to Lachish" (PDF). Biblical Archaeology Review. 39 (6). Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ a b c d "Olga Tufnell, 1905-1985". London, UK: The Palestine Exploration Fund. nd. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ Henry and, Ros; Hankey, Vronwy (1 January 1986). "Obituary: Olga Tufnell (1904–1985)" (PDF). Levant. 18 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1179/lev.1986.18.1.1. Retrieved 21 February 2016.  ^ Ussishkin, David (1978). "Lachish Renewed Archaeological Excavations: Lachish and the Previous Excavations" (PDF). Penn Museum. p. 18. Retrieved 21 February 2016.  ^ Magrill, Pamela (2006). A Researcher’s Guide to the Lachish Collection in the British Museum
British Museum
(PDF). The British Museum. ISBN 086159 161 5. Retrieved 21 February 2016.  ^ Starkey, James Leslie (1938). Lachish I (Tell ed Duweir): Lachish Letters. Oxford University Press.  ^ Olga Tufnell
Olga Tufnell
et. al (1940). Lachish II., (Tell ed Duweir). The Fosse Temple. Oxford University Press.  ^ Yohanan Aharoni, Investigations at Lachish: The sanctuary and the residency (Lachish V), Gateway Publishers, 1975, ISBN 0-914594-02-8 ^ Ussishkin, David (1978). Excavations at Tel Lachish
Tel Lachish
- 1973–1977, Preliminary Report (Report). 5. Tel Aviv. pp. 1–97.  ^ Ussishkin, David (1983). Excavations at Tel Lachish
Tel Lachish
- 1978–1983: Second Preliminary Report (Report). 10. Tel Aviv.  ^ Ussishkin, David (1996). Excavations and Restoration Work at Tel Lachish: 1985–1994: Third Preliminary Report (Report). 23. Tel Aviv.  ^ Wiener, Noah (November 8, 2013). "Khirbet Qeiyafa and Tel Lachish Excavations Explore Early Kingdom of Judah: After seven seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the team heads to Lachish". Washington,D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ "Publications and Bibliography". Collegedale, TN: Southern Adventist University. nd. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ "Potsherd With Canaanite Inscription Unearthed At Tel Lachish". December 12, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ Sass, Benjamin; Garfinkel, Yosef; Hasel, Michael G.; Klingbeil, Martin G. (2015). "The Lachish Jar Sherd: An Early Alphabetic Inscription Discovered in 2014". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The Fourth Expedition to Lachish. 374: 233–245. doi:10.5615/bullamerschoorie.374.0233.  ^ "Israel's Lachish is a planned city from the Rehoboam period". Kukmin Daily. Seoul, Korea. July 11, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ "Excavated Olive Seeds May Confirm Area as Rehoboam Period Archeological Site". Kukmin Daily. Seoul, Korea. July 25, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2018.  ^ "When a king means business: Archaeologists find stone toilet that desecrated massive shrine". Retrieved 7 January 2017.  ^ Albright, W. F. (1938). "The Oldest Hebrew Letters: The Lachish Ostraca". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (70): 11–1. doi:10.2307/1354816.  ^ W. F. Albright, A Reëxamination of the Lachish Letters, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 73, pp. 16-21, 1939 ^ Ussishkin, David (1976). "Royal Judean Storage Jars and Private Seal Impressions". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 223: 1–13.  (Chapter 29, Section B in the Lachish final excavation report) ^ Ussishkin, David (1977). "The Destruction of Lachish by Sennacherib and the Dating of the Royal Judean Storage Jars". Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. Tel Aviv. 4: 28–60. doi:10.1179/033443577788497777. 

See also[edit]

Cities of the ancient Near East List of artifacts significant to the Bible Lachish relief

Further reading[edit]

Barnett, R. D. "The Siege of Lachish." Israel
Israel
Exploration Journal, vol. 8, pp. 161–164, 1958 Bliss, Frederick. Numerous artifact drawings, also "Layer by Layer" drawings of Tell el-Hesy. Also an original attempt of the only el Amarna letter found at site, Amarna Letters, EA 333. A Mound of Many Cities; or Tell El Hesy Excavated, by Frederick Jones Bliss, PhD., explorer to the Fund, 2nd Edition, Revised. (The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.) c 1898. Grena, G.M. (2004). LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 1. Redondo Beach, California: 4000 Years of Writing History. ISBN 0-9748786-0-X.  Lawrence T. Geraty, Archaeology and the Bible at Hezekiah's Lachish, Andrews University Seminary Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 27–37, 1987 Magrill, Pamela, A researcher's guide to the Lachish collection in the British Museum, 2006, British Museum
British Museum
Research Publication 161, ISBN 0861591615, fully available online Arlene M. Rosen, Environmental Change and Settlement at Tel Lachish Israel, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 263, pp. 55–60, 1986 D. Ussishkin, The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish (1973–1994), Volumes I-V, Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology vol. 22, Tel Aviv University, 2004, ISBN 9652660175

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tel Lachish.

Jewish Encyclopedia: Lachish Photo gallery of Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) Images of the Assyrian Reliefs of Lachish Pictures of Tel Lachish A Late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
Potter's Workshop at Lachish, Israel
Israel
in Internet Archaeology

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