120 Seal impressions give insight into both tax collections and food distribution during reigns of Hezekiah and Manasseh
The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a major 2,700-year-old governmental administrative center in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem. They found a large structure of concentric stone walls, which once stood out in a region of agriculture, olives, grapes, and industrial winemaking facilities. This ancient agricultural region was close to ancient Jerusalem, less than three miles from King Hezekiah’s tunnel, a 1,750 foot long tunnel under Jerusalem, built to ensure access to fresh water in anticipation of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s siege. The accomplishment is noted in the Hebrew Bible (2 Chronicles 32:2-4, and 2 King 20:20). Arnona is quite close to Ramat Rachel, believed by many scholars to be the site of a Judahite royal palace.
The excavations at Arnona uncovered 120 jar handles with seal impressions on them, a large number to be found at one site. Some had the names of officials or wealthy citizens from the First Temple period. Others were inscribed, “LMLK” (belonging) to the King, followed by the name of one of four cities of the Judahite Kingdom: Hebron, Ziph, Socho and Mmst. As the directors of the excavations explained in the IAA release, “Evidence shows that at this site, taxes were collected in an orderly manner for agricultural produce such as wine and olive oil.” They also believe that food was being distributed to cover shortages from this site, and surpluses stored for wealth accumulation.
The excavation was conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, was funded by the Israel Land Authority and administrated by the Moriah Jerusalem Development Corporation. Neria Sapir and Nathan Ben-Ari directed the excavations for IAA.
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Will King Hezekiah Be Dislodged from His Tunnel? It is one of the most famous sites in Jerusalem—right up there after the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. And it is also one of the most exciting to visit—Hezekiah’s Tunnel. But is it really his?
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