BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Digging In: Tel Azekah

Unearthing a remarkable biblical site

Hear from volunteers and students excavating Tel Azekah in this exclusive video. This is the third post in an exclusive Bible History Daily series on excavating in the Bible lands. 


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A biblical site of innumerable archaeological riches

Situated in the heart of the Judean Shephelah, the site of Tel Azekah offers both deep biblical connections and innumerable archaeological riches. Located along a strategic roadway in the Elah Valley, between the coastal plain and the highlands, Azekah was an important settlement for thousands of years and the location of many conflicts recorded in both the Bible and historical sources.

On top of Tel Azekah. Courtesy Nathan Steinmeyer.

 

First settled in the Early Bronze Age (c. 3300–2000 B.C.E.), Azekah was a powerful city within the agriculturally rich Shephelah region. The city flourished during the Middle Bronze Age (c. 2000–1550 B.C.E.) and maintained a level of autonomy from Canaan’s Egyptian overlords during the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1200 B.C.E.), only to meet a cataclysmic destruction near the end of the period.

Azekah would be resettled in the Iron II period (c. 1000–586 B.C.E.) when it became an important Judahite town and stronghold. The site is mentioned numerous times in the Hebrew Bible, especially in connection to conflicts between Judah and its neighbors, starting in the conquest narrative of Joshua (10:10–11). Azekah was the backdrop to David’s battle with the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1). Later in biblical history, Tel Azekah was also one of the last strongholds that stood against the army of Sennacherib and the Assyrian Empire (c. 701 B.C.E.), and again against Nebuchadnezzar II and the Babylonians (c. 586 B.C.E.; Jeremiah 34:7). Following the Babylonian Exile, Nehemiah (10:30) mentions that Azekah was resettled by the returning Judean exiles. Archaeology and texts tell us that the site continued to be inhabited through the Roman period (c. 31 B.C.E.–324 C.E.).

Group photo of excavators and volunteers at Tel Azekah. Courtesy The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition.

 

Tel Azekah is located about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The pear-shaped mount covers around 14 acres of lush parkland. Despite limited excavations in the early 20th century, very little was known about the site’s archaeology until the launch of The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition, directed by Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University and Manfred Oeming of the University of Heidelberg. Since 2012, the expedition—one of the dozens featured on our digs page—has been uncovering the historical and archaeological secrets that Tel Azekah has to offer. In 2022, Bible History Daily met some of the incredible students and volunteers working to excavate Tel Azekah. Check out what they had to say about this incredible site in the video above.

 

Experience the Biblical World for Yourself!

Dozens of archaeological digs in Israel, Jordan, and elsewhere are looking for volunteers to help excavate history. Whether you are interested in the worlds of Kings David and Solomon, want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and the apostles, or work in an ancient Phoenician city, the Biblical Archaeology Society has a dig for you. Check out our digs page to see how you can get involved at sites like Tel Azekah and many others!

 


Read more in Bible History Daily:

Digging In: Tel Shimron

Digging In: Tel Hadid

 

All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

The Last Days of Canaanite Azekah

“Lachish and Azekah Were the Only Fortified Cities of Judah That Remained” (Jeremiah 34:7)

Not a BAS Library or All-Access Member yet? Join today.

 

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