The City of David is often described as the urban core of ancient Jerusalem, which (possibly) already boasted walled fortifications from Bronze Age. However the findings discovered this time around, hark back to Iron Age, circa 6th century BC, thus corresponding to the tumultuous time when Jerusalem was sacked by the Neo-Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar II. To that end, in the recent excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, mainly focused around the eastern slope of the City of David (encompassing 2500-year old dwellings), archaeologists have discovered a flurry of findings, ranging from burnt wood, grape seeds, pottery to fish scales, bones and fascinating artifacts.
One of these interesting discoveries pertain to a collection of jugs used for storing both grains and wine. Some of these specimens bear the marks of stamped seals, including one that portrays a rosette – a six-petal rose. According to Israel Antiquities Authority excavation directors, Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel –
These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty. Classifying objects facilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields. The rosette, in essence, replaced the ‘For the King’ seal used by the previous administrative system.
Beyond just seals, the researchers also came across artifacts that not only alludes to the wealth of the contemporary Judean kingdom, but also showcases their impressive levels of craftsmanship. One such finds entails a tiny ivory statue of a woman. The figure is presumably naked, while her haircut (or wig) is distinctly ancient Egyptian in style.
The excavation directors also talked about the scope of ancient Jerusalem and how the urban perimeters expanded in relation to the inhabitants –
The excavation’s findings unequivocally show that Jerusalem had spread outside of the city walls before its destruction. A row of structures currently under excavation appears beyond the city wall that constituted the eastern border of the city during this period. Throughout the Iron Age, Jerusalem underwent constant growth, expressed both in the construction of the city wall and the fact that the city later spread beyond it. Excavations carried out in the past in the area of the Jewish Quarter have shown how the growth of the community at the end of the 8th Century BCE caused the annexation of the western area of Jerusalem. In the current excavation, we may suggest that following the westward expansion of the city, structures were built outside of the wall’s border on the east as well.
Source/ Images Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority