The missing Jerusalem wall proves Iron Age Jerusalem was a well-fortified city
In July 2021, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the groundbreaking discovery of the eastern section of Jerusalem’s Iron Age wall. The previously missing Jerusalem wall, stretching along the eastern slope of the Kidron Valley, was uncovered in the City of David Archaeological Park, a short distance from the Temple Mount. Stamps seals and other objects found along the wall allowed the excavators to date the wall to the Iron Age, indicating that it was likely part of the fortifications built by King Hezekiah (Isaiah 22:9), as he prepared for the Assyrian invasion (c. 701 B.C.E.). This also would have been the very same wall that was ultimately destroyed during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem about a century later (2 Kings 25:10).
Although two other sections of the wall were discovered in the 1960s and 70s, the two sections were separated by a large gap, which led some archaeologists to suggest that they were not actually part of biblical Jerusalem’s Iron Age fortifications. Rather, it was thought that the identified walls were pieces of larger buildings. This recent discovery, however, finally connects the two sections, proving conclusively that Jerusalem was heavily fortified during the Iron Age. Reconstructions suggest the wall reached a height of nearly 10 feet and was more than 15 feet thick. What is more, the wall sat atop the slopes of the steep-sided Kidron Valley, making for an imposing barrier along Jerusalem’s eastern defenses.
Other Jerusalem excavations have also revealed remains of the city’s Iron Age fortifications, thought to have been constructed under King Hezekiah in the late eighth century B.C.E. One of these is the Broad Wall, which runs under the modern Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Unlike the missing Jerusalem wall around the City of David, the Broad Wall was built along relatively flat ground, and as a result, was constructed as a massive fortification. The wall is an incredible 23 feet wide (hence the name) and scholars think it may have stood more than 25 feet tall.
Between 1968 and 1982 and from 1985 to the present, Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has exposed over 900 feet of the western wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by digging a tunnel underneath the structures above. During much of that time I was the Israel Antiquities Authority’s District Archaeologist for Jerusalem. That is how, after resigning from the IAA, I became the archaeologist of the site.
Joshua’s Altar—An Iron Age I Watchtower by Aharon Kempinski
I vividly remember a hot day in late October 1982—October 27, to be exact—when, with two other archaeologists, I first visited Adam Zertal’s excavation on Mt. Ebal. Even then, during the first season of excavation, rumors had spread that Zertal had found “Joshua’s altar.” It seems that from the beginning Zertal really thought he had discovered “Joshua’s altar.”
Estimating the Population of Ancient Jerusalem by Magen Broshi
Despite its obvious importance, the number of ancient Jerusalem’s inhabitants is a subject that is often ignored. Until recently, writers who did deal with the matter based their estimates on ancient literary sources, which, however, are generally considered to be untrustworthy.1 Even Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, who is usually quite exact with figures, is unrealistic when it comes to population figures.
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