Jerusalem, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered an “important” government storage complex dating back to 2,700 years ago, which has thrown up the remains of ceramic jar handles with Hebrew seals and pagan figurines associated with the biblical Kingdom of Judah.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said the site, located in western Jerusalem, was an “unusually large” complex built with concentric, finely cut stone walls.
Yuvul Baruch from the IAA said: “The archaeological discoveries at Arnona identify the site as a key site — the most important in the history of the final days of the Kingdom of Judah and of the return to Zion decades after the destruction of the Kingdom.”
Among the discoveries made were 120 jar handles bearing ancient Hebrew inscriptions, including some which were engraved with LMLK, which translates roughly as “belonging to the king.”
Others bore the names of high-ranking officials and members of high society in the kingdom. Those same names have been found on the remains of pots in other archaeological sites in the area attributed to the Kingdom of Judah, adding weight to the hypothesis that they belonged to wealthy land-owners.
The IAA said it was one of the most important collections ever discovered in the region.
According to the directors of the excavation Neria Sapir and Nathan Ben Ari, the site from the Iron Age served as an administrative center to distribute agricultural surpluses, collect taxes and store products for times of scarcity.
“The site once dominated large agricultural plots and orchards of olive trees and grapevines which included agricultural industrial facilities such as wine presses for winemaking,” they said.
Other curious discoveries at the location include remnants of clay statuettes of women, horsemen and animals which were likely used in pagan idolatry. According to biblical accounts, paganism was the prevailing belief system during the Kingdom and Judah.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the monarchy was established in the south of the Holy Land and emerged following the north-south division of the Kingdom of Israel.