- Rare evidence of when and how Jerusalem was resettled after the Babylonian exile of 586 BCE has been discovered in an excavation in the City of David, just outside the Old City walls.
“The Persian period is a black hole in archaeology,” Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dr. Yiftah Shalev told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. “Every time we find something, it’s like lighting a new candle — it gives a new light.”
During the Persian period, Jews are traditionally thought to have accomplished a “return to Zion” after the exile that followed the destruction of the First Temple, as depicted in the Biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The twin discoveries were uncovered in what appears to be a sort of shanty camp set up in the courtyard of an earlier Iron Age building destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and filled with two meters of debris.
“We knew there was a bureaucracy during the Persian period,” said Shalev. But the two seals — evidence that officialdom continued in the ruined city — represent “the first time that these things are shown in context in Jerusalem.”
Shalev said they date to the start of the Persian period and illustrate “how people are beginning to rebuild.”