Tel Lachish

Archaeological finds — such as a coin used in the Jewish Temple, a pottery vessel featuring the name of a Biblical judge, artifacts found in Beit El and more — are testament to Jewish ties to the Land of Israel.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Nearly 3,000 years ago, Assyrian King Sennacherib conquered numerous fortified towns in the Holy Land and exiled 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. Scripture records that the massive Assyrian military was wiped out in a single night by an angel while besieging Jerusalem.

Archaeologists knew the Assyrians built siege ramps that enabled them to breach city walls with battering rams, but how those ramps were built remains a mystery.

However, a group of Israeli and American archaeologists solved that mystery. Lachish was the only fortified town mentioned by name in the Book of Isaiah in reference to Sennacherib’s conquest. So the researchers started at the Tel Lachish archaeological park, located in south-central Israel, near Kiryat Gat. Lachish was the second-largest city in Judah, second in size and population only to Jerusalem.

Professor Yosef Garfinkel and Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professors Jon W. Carroll and Michael Pytlik of Oakland University published their findings in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

They drew on biblical texts, archaeological excavations, Akkadian inscriptions and stone relief illustrations of Assyrian battles. They also used aerial drones to photograph and map out Tel Lachish and its surroundings, according to a Hebrew University statement.

The siege ramp of Lachish is the largest surviving siege ramp in the region and the only one remaining from the Assyrians, the researchers say.

The research suggests that the ramp’s construction began about 80 meters away from the walls of the city of Lachish, close to where stones required for the ramp could be quarried. The stones would have been transported along human chains –passed man-to-man by hand with four human chains working in parallel on the ramp, each working round-the clock shifts, Garfinkel calculated that about 160,000 stones were moved each day. The ramp was made of small boulders, each weighing around 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs).

“Time was the main concern of the Assyrian army. Hundreds of laborers worked day and night carrying stones, possibly in two shifts of 12 hours each. The manpower was probably supplied by prisoners of war and forced labor of the local population. The laborers were protected by massive shields placed at the northern end of the ramp. These shields were advanced towards the city by a few meters each day,” Garfinkel explained.

Garfinkel also cited the Book of Isaiah’s description of the Assyrian army’s tirelessness.

“Indeed, the prophet Isaiah, who lived at the end of the eighth century BCE and was an eyewitness to the events, mentioned the Assyrian army in some of his prophecies. [Isaiah] relates to the Assyrians as a mighty, supernatural power, ‘None of them tired, none of them stumbling, none of them asleep or drowsy, none of them with belt unfastened, none of them with broken sandal-strap.’” (Isaiah 5:27).

Garfinkel added that he is planning further excavations to learn more about the battle.

Archaeological finds — such as a coin used in the Jewish Temple, a pottery vessel featuring the name of a Biblical judge, artifacts found in Beit El and more — prove Jewish ties to the land of Israel.