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Lachish

From Academic Kids

Lachish was a town located in the Shephelah, or maritime plain of Palestine (Joshua 10:3, 5; 12:11). This town was first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha (EA 287, 288, 328, 329, 335). The Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Josh. 10:31-33), but the territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah (15:39).

Under Rehoboam, it became the second most important city of Israel. In 701 BC, during the revolt of king Hezekiah against Assyria, it was captured by Sennacherib despite determined resistance. The town later came under the control of the kings of Judah, only to fall to Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign against Judah (586 BC).

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Lachish was identified with Tell el-Hesy from a cuneiform tablet found there (EA 333). The tablet is a letter from an Egyptian official named Paapu, reporting cases of treachery involving a local kinglet, Zimredda. Excavations at Tell el-Hesy were conducted by Petrie and Bliss for the Palestine Exploration Fund during the years 1890 - 1893, and among other discoveries was the remains of what was identified as an iron blast furnace, with slag and ashes, which was dated to 1500 BC. If the theories of experts are correct, the use of the hot-air blast instead of cold air was known at an extremely early age.

More recent excavations have identified Tell ed-Duweir as Lachish beyond reasonable doubt. Excavation campaigns by James Leslie Starkey recovered a number of ostraca (18 in 1935, three more in 1938) from the latest occupational level immediately before the Chaldean siege. They form the only known corpus of documents in classical Hebrew.

Another major contribution to Biblical archaeology from excavations at Lachish are the LMLK seals, which were stamped on the handles of a particular form of ancient storage jar. More of these artifacts were found at this site (over 400; Ussishkin, 2004, pp. 2151-9) than any other place in Israel (Jerusalem remains in second place with more than 300). Most of them were collected from the surface during Starkey's excavations, but others were found in Level 1 (Persian and Greek era), Level 2 (period preceding Babylonian conquest by Nebuchadnezzar), and Level 3 (period preceding Assyrian conquest by Sennacherib). It is thanks to the work of David Ussishkin's team working at the site from 1973 - 1994 that eight of these stamped jars were restored (Ussishkin, 1983), thereby demonstrating lack of relevance between the jar volumes (which deviated as much as 5 gallons or 12 litres), and also proving their relation to the reign of Biblical king Hezekiah.

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