Gov’t complex from time of Hezekiah, Manasseh discovered near US Embassy in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of a large building from the ancient Kingdom of Judah that has been dated to the time of kings Hezekiah and Manasseh (Heb. – Menashe). The Jerusalem Post article includes photos and a drone video with clear views of the excavated building and surrounding area.

This new discovery is in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona and lies just a few hundred yards south of the US embassy in Jerusalem. This new discovery is also close to Ramat Rachal, an ancient governmental site that belonged to the biblical kingdom of Judah.

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Aerial Photo of the Israel Antiquities Authority excavation on the slopes of Arnona (photo credit: ASSAF PEREZ / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Among the numerous finds are many LMLK (pronounced “l’melekh”) jars. These were storage vessels that have been linked to Hezekiah’s “storehouses” in 2 Chron. 32:27-28, and held taxes paid in the form of olive oil, food, wine, etc. The term “LMLK” was stamped on the handles of those jars and translates as “belonging to the king.” In other words, “government property.” Concentrations of these jars have been uncovered in numerous administrative buildings from biblical Judah.

Excavations such as this also revive the names of long-forgotten people.

Along with the jar handles bearing the royal seal impressions, several similar items featuring private names were uncovered, Naham Abdi, Naham Hatzlihu, Meshalem Elnatan, Zafan Abmetz, Shaneah Azaria, Shalem Acha and Shivna Shachar. The names appear on jar handles found in other sites from the Kingdom of Judah, suggesting that the people were probably senior officials or wealthy individuals.

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Israel Antiquities Authority Excavations at the Arnona Site from the First Temple Period Reveal the Impressive Remains of Structures (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Excavators also found a number of figurines that were likely used for religious purposes. The Bible describes how Hezekiah worked to suppress the use of images in worship, and how his son Manasseh worked to undo his father’s policies.

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Clay Figurines of Women and Animals Found at the Site. These kinds of objects were frequently used in worship by inhabitants of ancient Canaan, including Israel and Judah. (Yaniv Berman / Israel Antiquities Authority)

This excavation was carried out in preparation for construction of a new residential neighborhood. There is no word yet as to whether any of this newly-discovered site will be preserved as construction eventually moves ahead.

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads popular study tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
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