Two millennia-old clay seals hint at Jews rebuilding Jerusalem after Babylonian exile


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Jerusalem's Old City is seen through a door with the shape of star of David, in Jerusalem, December 6, 2017
AP Photo/Oded BaliltyJerusalem's Old City is seen through a door with the shape of star of David, in Jerusalem, December 6, 2017

Findings may indicate despite scale of destruction, efforts were made to restore administrative authorities

An ancient seal and a seal impression found at an archaeological site in Jerusalem offered Israeli archaeologists a glimpse at the restoration of the city after its fall to the Babylonian armies in 6th century BCE, Israel's Antiquities Authority recently announced.

The two artifacts were discovered at the Givati Parking Lot Excavation site in the City of David area just to the south of Jerusalem's Old City walls, during a joint excavation project by the Antiquities Authority and the Tel Aviv University.

The imprint of a seal on a large piece of clay found by the researchers depicts a person -- likely, a king -- sitting on a chair or a throne, with at least one column in front of him, possibly symbolizing Marduk, the patron deity of Babylon, and Nabu, another key Mesopotamian deity.

Eliyahu Yanai, City of David Archives
Eliyahu Yanai, City of David ArchivesStamp seal featuring a man sitting on a big chair, with pillars in front of him.

Another finding is a seal, made of a piece of locally-produced pottery. Divided into two sections, it features two shapes, possibly pseudo-epigraphic -- designed to look like letters -- inside a rounded border.

Shai Halevy, Israel Antiquities Authority.
Shai Halevy, Israel Antiquities Authority.A seal made out of a piece of clay from the Persian Period, found in the City of David in Jerusalem.

The findings are estimated to date back to the era after the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians following the 586 BC fall of Jerusalem, a period that is mostly known to scholars through Biblical sources, the press release notes.

"The findings from the Givati Parking Lot Excavation shed light on the renewal of the local administration, in a location similar to the one that existed before the destruction of the First Temple, about 100 years prior," it adds.

After a brutal siege, which started in 589 BC, the Babylonian forces, led by king Nebuchadnezzar II, razed the city to the ground and took Zedekiah, Judah's king whom the Babylonians installed and then who rebelled against it, prisoner.

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