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The existence of a cultural group that existed in Jerusalem after the conquests of Sennacherib until the destruction of Babylon was revealed

A pair of female researchers from the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University were able to identify, through advanced XNUMXD computational research, a new cultural group that existed in Jerusalem and its surroundings between the conquests of the Assyrian Empire after Sennacherib's campaign and the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah

XNUMXD scan of the ceramics, courtesy of the Laboratory for Computational Archeology at the Hebrew University. Photo credit: Tal Rogovski
XNUMXD scan of the ceramics, courtesy of the Laboratory for Computational Archeology at the Hebrew University. Photo credit: Tal Rogovski

In an advanced computational study published in the scientific journal PLoS One, and edited in the Computational Archeology Laboratory at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Dr. Ortal Harosh and Prof. Lior Grossman, We will examine a collection of storage vessels, jugs From the Iron Age (9th to 6th century BC), a period identified in the Bible with the period of the Kingdom of Judah. The jugs were taken from archaeological sites in the Lowlands and Jerusalem, scanned in XNUMXD and processed in the Computational Archeology Laboratory at the Hebrew University. The research included a precise geometrical comparative analysis of the longitudinal sections of the jars, paying special attention to their geographical spatial distribution, for the purpose of detecting regional-morphological trends. The purpose of the research was to locate "signatures" of cultures in the production of tools that are similar in shape, and to shed light on the organization of social production during this period. Amazingly, the research work revealed that after Sennacherib's conquest of the lowland and the expulsion of the population from it (701 BC), a new 'creative group' appeared in Jerusalem and its surroundings. This group apparently existed in the area until the destruction of Babylon (586 BC).

The new group of potters had faith in the production of "Verderosetta" jugs. These are state trading jars that were used mainly for hoarding, storage and distribution, and it is common to think of them as signs of the presence of a local administration, as part of an administrative and economic system of the Kingdom of Judah. While the famous 'King' potter group was weak on the plain for over a century, in the seventh century BC its presence weakened and a new type appeared and weakened over most of the Jerusalem area - these are the "Verderosetta" jugs. Historically, the point in time of the change of this ceramic tradition can be attributed to Sennacherib's conquest in 701 BC and the subsequent weakening of the Shekhal. That is, before Sennacherib's conquest, 'Lamelech' jugs were produced and widely distributed in our region and "Verde/Rosetta" jugs appear after Sennacherib's conquest of the Lowlands and the expulsion of the population of the area, and are distributed mainly in Jerusalem and its surroundings until the destruction of Babylon in 586 BC.

"It is important to clarify that the Horderosetta jars are known to the research world, but until now they have been attributed to the ceramic-cultural tradition of the 'king'. This research emphasizes through innovative tools the importance of 'tiny differences' in ceramic production, which differentiates one production group from another. The Hordarosetta jugs were produced by a different group of potters than the one that produced the Lamelech," explains Dr. Harosh.

Sennacherib's journey to Judah in 701 BC is one of the most narrated events in the history of the ancient Near East - both in the Bible and in the archaeological findings. Sennacherib, the king of the Assyrian Empire, went on a punitive campaign against a coalition of kingdoms - among them Egypt, Sidon and Judah - who united and rebelled against the empire. The Assyrian army conquered the rebel settlements one by one, destroyed them and exiled their inhabitants. Archaeological evidence that has been discovered so far has emphasized the extensive and systematic destruction in all the major cities at that time. According to what is told in the Bible, during the conquest of the field cities in Judah, Hezekiah regretted his rebellion, and sent messengers to Sennacherib with gold and silver coins to appease him. Despite this, the Assyrian army continued to Jerusalem and besieged it in order to surrender. This siege is represented in the Bible in the famous Rabshakeh speech. In the end, the Assyrian army failed to capture Jerusalem and retreated from the area. Jerusalem was saved, but apparently became a vassal kingdom of the Assyrian Empire. The present study sheds additional and intriguing light on the time period after Sennacherib's campaign, by presenting the appearance of a new cultural group in Jerusalem and its surroundings after the siege. The fascinating archaeological find opens up many possibilities for the research regarding the identity of that group, and can lead to extensive and surprising research in the future.

The present study also showed that despite the uncertainty as to whether the change in one type (king) to another (rosette) reflects a sudden or gradual change that occurred following Sennacherib's conquest, this transition should be seen primarily as a change in the regional social network. In other words, The difference between the two groups may be due to two social groups originating from different learning environments, and the creation of cultural markers that are reflected in the distinct jars.

"The application of the method used in this study has important and interesting implications for archaeological research as a whole and its interpretation", The researchers conclude. As part of this research work, these methods were also adopted to understand the cultural complexity in the Bronze Age, in the third millennium BC, when here, too, monitoring the small changes in the ceramic profile helped to define subgroups. The researchers add though that "The search for a cultural 'fingerprint' in the archaeological record is complex, mainly because archaeological findings do not represent a specific moment in time. The ability to follow minute changes, which are not visible to the eye, and which can highlight cultural signs and behavioral discoveries, can be an important contribution in the analysis of archaeological finds."

for the scientific article 

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