Archaeologists excavating the City of David in Jerusalem have discovered evidence that a passage of the Bible is historically accurate.
Researchers at the site in the Jerusalem Walls National Park found many burnt artifacts dating from 2,600 years ago, confirming a reference in the Bible that describes the burning of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Jerusalem is thought to have fallen around 587 BCE.
The findings, including burnt pottery, wood, grape seeds, and bones all covered in layers of ash, provide further evidence that the Babylonians "burned all the houses of Jerusalem", as described in the Book of Jeremiah.
The archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered the artifacts beneath layers of rock in the eastern part of the City of David. Amongst them were also dozens of jars used to store grain and fluids. Many of these items bore stamped handles and rosette seals, enabling the researchers to date the artifacts to 2,600 years ago.
"These seals are characteristic of the end of the First Temple Period," Dr Joe Uziel, who led the excavation, explains in the video above from the Israel Antiquities Authority. "[They] were used for the administrative system that developed towards the end of the Judean dynasty."
The fact that the fire damage to the artifacts can now be dated to 2,600 years ago corroborates accounts in the Bible of the Babylonians burning the city. The first reference to this event appears in the Book of Jeremiah, stating:
"Now on the seventh day of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord, the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every great house he burned with fire."
The dig does indeed display signs that large parts of the city was destroyed quickly by an intense blaze, the Times of Israel reports. However, it also showed signs that other areas were abandoned after the initial blaze, rather than being destroyed by it, suggesting the burning wasn't as widespread as the passage from the Bible implied.
“It seems like not all of the buildings were destroyed in a single event," Dr Uziel explains. "It seems that some were destroyed and others were abandoned and left.”
However, overall the discoveries at the dig add to existing evidence, which includes the discovery of Babylonian arrowheads dating from around the same time, that the burning of Jerusalem was a historical event as well as a biblical one.