JERUSALEM (RNS) â Israeli archaeologists recently discovered 2,600-year-old artifacts they say offer further concrete evidence of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem around 586 B.C.
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery just days before Tisha BâAv, a Jewish fast day commemorating the anniversary of the destruction of both the First Temple by the Babylonians and the Second Temple by the Romans in the year 70.
The fast begins at sundown Monday.
The announcement comes at a time of great turmoil in and around the Temple Mount (the Haram al-Sharif in Arabic), the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina.
During the four-month excavation, carried out in the Jerusalem Walls National Park near Jerusalemâs Old City, archaeologists found charred wood, pottery, fish scales and bones, grape seeds and ârare artifactsâ covered by burned charcoal and layers of building debris.
Among the most important finds were dozens of storage jars, several of them with handles stamped with the image of a petalled rose, or rosette.
âThese seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period and were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty,â according to dig directors Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf.
At the time, Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judea.
Classifying objects using seals âfacilitated controlling, overseeing, collecting, marketing and storing crop yields,â they said.
The excavation also revealed an artistically rendered small ivory statue of a woman whose hair was cut in an âEgyptian style,â and indicates the wealth of some residents of the…