A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who have been excavating the hill known as Mount Zion in Jerusalem, say they have discovered arrowheads dating from the period, layers of ash, Iron Age potsherds, as well as a "significant" piece of jewelry - a gold silver tassel or earring - archetypal of the period in question.
"The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found -- pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period," the UNC archaeological team wrote in a statement.
The Mount Zion Archaeological Project is co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies. The group has been working in the area for more than a decade and has made numerous significant finds relating to the ancient city's many historical periods.
In July 2019, the archaeologists found evidence concerning the sack of the city during the First Crusade.
The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history. The researchers say that the unique mix of artifacts and materials found, together with the way they were found - covered in layers of ash - solidify both the time period and that there was some type of destructive event that took place at that time.
"Alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated," the researchers claim in their release. "Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse. Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down.
Gibson explained that the arrowheads are known as "Scythian arrowheads," and have been found at other archaeological conflict sites from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.
"They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors," he explained. "Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE."
The potsherds help date the discovery further, considering the lamp shards found are typical to the period.