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How archaeologists reconstructed the burning of Jerusalem in 586 BCE

How archaeologists reconstructed the burning of Jerusalem in 586 BCE
December 31, 2023


How archaeologists reconstructed the burning of Jerusalem in 586 BCE
Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority

There is infrequently time to jot down about each cool science-y tale that comes our approach. So this yr, we are as soon as once more working a distinct Twelve Days of Christmas sequence of posts, highlighting one science tale that fell during the cracks in 2020, on a daily basis from December 25 thru January 5. As of late: Archaeologists trusted chemical clues and strategies like FTIR spectroscopy and archaeomagnetic research to reconstruct the burning of Jerusalem by means of Babylonian forces round 586 BCE.

Archaeologists have exposed new proof in strengthen of Biblical accounts of the siege and burning of town of Jerusalem by means of the Babylonians round 586 BCE, in keeping with a September paper printed within the Magazine of Archaeological Science.
The Hebrew bible accommodates the one account of this momentous match, which incorporated the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. “The Babylonian chronicles from those years weren’t preserved,” co-author Nitsan Shalom of Tel Aviv College in Israel instructed New Scientist. In keeping with the biblical account, “There used to be a violent and whole destruction, the entire town used to be burned and it stayed totally empty, just like the descriptions you notice in [the Book of] Lamentations concerning the town abandoned and in whole distress.”
Judah used to be a vassal kingdom of Babylon all the way through the past due seventh century BCE, beneath the rule of thumb of Nebuchadnezzar II. This didn’t sit down neatly with Judah’s king, Jehoiakim, who revolted towards the Babylonian king in 601 BCE regardless of being warned no longer to take action by means of the prophet Jeremiah. He stopped paying the specified tribute and sided with Egypt when Nebuchadnezzar attempted (and failed) to in invade that nation.  Jehoiakim died and his son Jeconiah succeeded him when Nebuchadnezzar’s forces besieged Jerusalem in 597 BCE. Town used to be pillaged and Jeconiah surrendered and used to be deported to Babylon for his hassle, together with a considerable portion of Judah’s inhabitants. (The Ebook of Kings places the quantity at 10,000.) His uncle Zedekiah was king of Judah.
Zedekiah additionally chafed beneath Babylonian rule and revolted in flip, refusing to pay the specified tribute and looking for alliance with the Egyptian pharaoh Hophra. This ended in a brutal 30-month siege by means of Nebuchadnezzar’s forces towards Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. Ultimately the Babylonians prevailed once more, breaking during the town partitions to overcome Jerusalem. Zedekiah used to be compelled to observe his sons killed and used to be then blinded, sure, and brought to Babylon as a prisoner. This time Nebuchadnezzar used to be much less merciful and ordered his troops to fully smash Jerusalem and pull down the wall round 586 BCE.
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There may be archaeological proof to strengthen the account of town being destroyed by means of hearth, together with within reach villages and cities at the western border. 3 residential constructions had been excavated between 1978 and 1982 and located to comprise burned wood beams courting to round 586 BCE. Archaeologists additionally discovered ash and burned wood beams from the similar time frame after they excavated a number of constructions on the Giv’ati Parking Lot archaeological web site, with regards to the assumed location of Solomon’s Temple. Samples taken from a plaster flooring confirmed publicity to excessive temperatures of no less than 600 levels Celsius
Aerial view of the excavation site in Jerusalem, at the foot of the Temple MountMagnify / Aerial view of the excavation web site in Jerusalem, on the foot of the Temple MountAssaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority
Then again, it wasn’t conceivable to decide from that proof whether or not the fires had been intentional or unintentional, or the place the hearth began if it used to be certainly intentional. For this newest analysis, Shalom and her colleagues centered at the two-story Construction 100 on the Giv’ati Parking Lot web site. They used Fourier grow to be infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy—which measures the absorption of infrared gentle to decide to what stage a pattern were heated—and archaeomagnetic research, which determines whether or not samples containing magnetic minerals had been sufficiently heated to reorient the ones compounds to a brand new magnetic north.
The research published various levels of publicity to high-temperature hearth in 3 rooms (designated A, B, and C) at the backside degree of Construction 100, with Room C appearing the obvious proof. This may were an indication that Room C used to be the ignition level, however there used to be no hearth trail; the burning of Room C gave the look to be remoted. Blended with an previous 2020 find out about on segments of the second one degree of the construction, the authors concluded that a number of fires had been lit within the construction and the fires burned most powerful within the higher flooring, with the exception of for that “intense native hearth” in Room C at the first degree.
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“When a construction burns, warmth rises and is focused under the ceiling,” the authors wrote. “The partitions and roof are due to this fact heated to better temperatures than the ground.” The presence of charred beams at the flooring recommend this used to be certainly the case: many of the warmth rose to the ceiling, burning the beams till they collapsed to the flooring, which in a different way had been subjected to radiant warmth. However the extent of the particles used to be most likely no longer led to simply by that cave in, suggesting that the Babylonians intentionally went again in and knocked down any ultimate partitions.
Moreover, “They focused the extra necessary, the extra well-known structures within the town,” Shalom instructed New Scientist, relatively than destroying the whole thing indiscriminately. “2600 years later, we are nonetheless mourning the temple.”
Whilst they discovered no proof of extra fuels that may have served as accelerants, “we would possibly think the hearth used to be deliberately ignited  because of its well-liked presence in all rooms and each tales of the construction,” Shalom et al. concluded. “The reveals inside the rooms point out there used to be sufficient flammable subject material (vegetal and wood pieces and building subject material) to make further gasoline useless. The well-liked presence of charred stays suggests a planned destruction by means of hearth…. [T]he unfold of the hearth and the fast cave in of the construction point out that the destroyers invested nice efforts to fully demolish the construction and take it out of use.”
DOI: Magazine of Archaeological Science, 2023. 10.1016/j.jas.2023.105823  (About DOIs).

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