Near the new US embassy in Jerusalem, another impressive administrative building has recently been uncovered. This one is 2700 years older, dating to the time of the last kings of Judah. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) made the discovery in the Arnona neighborhood, less than two miles south of the Old City of Jerusalem.

A highlight of the excavation was finding one of the largest collections of royal Kingdom of Judah seal impressions ever uncovered in Israel. More than 120 of these impressions were found stamped on jars used to ship agricultural goods to the complex. The building and its contents provide significant new insights into life in Judah during the late First Temple period.

“This is one of the most significant discoveries from the period of the Kings in Jerusalem made in recent years. At the site we excavated, there are signs that governmental activity managed and distributed food supplies not only for shortage but administered agricultural surplus amassing commodities and wealth,” said co-directors Neria Sapir and Nathan Ben-Ari of the IAA in a press release.

Most of the jar handles at the Arnona site are marked with inscriptions in the Old Hebrew script reading “LMLK” (or LamMeLKh), which means “Belonging to the King.” This along with the massive size of the structure, the style of the architecture made with fine ashlar (sawn) stone, and its location which dominates the valley, all lead to the conclusion that this was a major administrative storage centre.

Patterns of Evidence