Archaeologists Uncover City Wall from First Temple Times that Protected Ancient Jerusalem
The section of the wall that was exposed. Photo: Koby Harati, City of David
07-14-2021 CBN News Jerusalem Julie Stahl
Archaeologists excavating in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem have uncovered the remains of the city wall from almost 3,000 years ago.
The announcement comes just days ahead of Tisha B’Av – the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av – when Jews around the world mark the destruction of both the First and Second Temples as well as other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.
City of David archaeologist, Dr. Filip Vukosavović said finding this part of the wall provides a key to understand the First Temple era of ancient JerusalemRelated
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“In the ‘60s, a famous British archaeologist Kathleen Canyon just a few meters north of here uncovered a 30-meter section of the same wall. Then she claimed already this is the wall of Jerusalem during the time period,” Dr. Vukosavović told CBN News at the site.
Then according to Vukosavović, about a decade later, Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shilo found another section further south, but a piece of the puzzle remained missing.
“For a number of years, we attempted to find additional sections of this wall and we couldn’t. So much so that we started doubting the existence of this wall and claiming that maybe that was one separate wall for something else, like a retaining wall, or a terrace wall,” Vukosavović explained.
That brings us to this discovery of two more sections, which clears up the mystery.
“So now, we can conclusively say that yes, the City of David at least had one massive wall that surrounded the City of David,” Vukosavović said.
The excavations, conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), reveal a section of the city wall that would have protected Jerusalem for 150-200 years from sometime in the 8th century BC until the city was conquered by the Babylonians and the Temple destroyed in 586 BC.
“The city wall protected Jerusalem from a number of attacks during the reign of the Kings of Judah, until the arrival of the Babylonians who managed to break through it and conquer the city,” said excavation directors, Vukosavović and Dr. Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf on behalf of the IAA.
“The remains of the ruins can be seen in the archaeological excavations. However, not everything was destroyed, and parts of the walls, which stood and protected the city for decades and more, remain standing to this day,” they added.
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In 2 Kings 25:8-10, the Bible describes the conquest of the city: “[Nebuzaradan]…came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the Temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building, he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem.”
Archaeologists found evidence of that burning just inside the wall. This part apparently wasn’t destroyed, possibly because of the steep hill below it.
In addition to the wall, archaeologists found artifacts indicating what life was like in the Kingdom of Judah in those days.
“We found a bulla of a person called ‘Tsafan’, which is an abbreviation of ‘Tsafania,’ Zephaniah, which we find in the Bible as well. Just a few centimeters away, we found a Babylonian stamp seal. So, we have a Judean and we have a Babylonian,” Vukosavović said.
They also found jar handles stamped with ‘L’melech’ meaning, ‘belonging to the King,’ and others with rosettes and circles.
Dr. Vukosavović said the wall is more or less as they saw it 2,600 years ago so it brings a special reward.
“To find something, a really beautiful wall in so many ways and I don’t know how many years or hundreds of [hours of] manpower it took to build it, but it’s, you know – you touch something, or you walk on something or you lean against something and you know you and I did the same thing 2600 years [later]. So, it’s emotional,” Vukosavović told CBN News.
For now, the excavation will continue as the archaeologists try to understand how the nearby Gihon Spring and other sites fit together.
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