G.M. Grena's Review of RAEL

Biblical Accounts
NonBiblical Accounts

x (cannot classify)


Personal Seals



"The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish (1973-1994)"

Five volumes, abbreviated herein as RAELv# (#=1, 2, 3, 4, or 5)

Some 2,700 years have passed since the famous conquest of Lachish by Sennacherib, & it's a fascinating coincidence that David Ussishkin has now presented 2,700 pages of data representing his excavation work at the site.  For me, this new set of books is a dream come true!  Lachish has been a messy site documentation-wise, yet it is the first site most people think of when the subject of LMLK stamps arises in conversation.  This series would be a wise investment by anyone wishing to study what is undeniably the most important site in the territory of ancient Judah with the possible exception of Jerusalem; however, Jerusalem excavations have been extremely limited due to the Muslim authority at the heart of the site & the extensive modern dwellings over the majority of the area.  Such has not been the case at Lachish, & thus it is an archaeological treasure trove!  My chief complaint is that it's unfortunate these books were not offered simultaneously in a less expensive CD-ROM version so that more people such as students would be able to digest its rich contents.  An ASCII text version would also facilitate faster processing so that people like me would be able to search its contents for every little reference to the LMLK jar handles.  Alas, I can only turn 2,700 pages so fast; therefore, I apologize if I've overlooked any important details in this review.  For a more comprehensive review I wrote for a broader audience with less LMLK details, please visit the page dedicated to it at Eisenbrauns.

The first half of Volume 1 is great for history buffs, plus it contains several color photos of LMLK jars & stamped handles.  Its second half & the remainder of Volumes 2-5 are primarily for archeologists, graduate students, & eccentric data miners like me!

The bulk of LMLK content begins in Volume 4.  The opening chapters by Orna Zimhoni covering pottery classifications are excellent, although I'm still more comfortable with the designations given to the LMLK-related jars by Olga Tufnell of Types 467, 483, & especially 484 (designated Group III:SJ-1 by Ussishkin, formerly IIIA by Zimhoni).

Her chapters are followed by an interesting presentation via drawings, photos, & textual descriptions of all the arrowheads (nearly 400--almost the same quantity as LMLK handles) that reflect the actual combat between the residents of Lachish & the Assyrian invaders, which is supplemented by drawings from the Nineveh reliefs showing the Assyrians shooting at the walls of Lachish.  Their distribution is well represented by Fig. 27.21 on p. 1954 showing their positions relative to the Assyrian siege-ramp, the Lachish counter-ramp, & the various city walls.  Kudos to Yulia Gottlieb for a chapter well done!

Chapter 29 covers inscriptions & is divided into 3 major sections.  Andre Lemaire presents the 22 famous ostraca (dubbed the "Lachish Letters" by past writers) in modern Hebrew, English transliteration, & English translation.  Ostracon #5 contains 10 lines written by a very humble person who mentions YEVE twice (including a prayer for a prosperous harvest), then closes with the question, "Will Tobiah bring royal grain to your servant?"  In Hebrew the final words translated as "royal grain" are "ZRO LMLK".  This placement of "LMLK" at the end of the sentence brings to mind the fiscal bullae, nearly all of which name a year, a place, then the word "LMLK".  On 2 of them, Lachish is the place named.  None of these bullae were recovered from the scientific excavations at Lachish, but Robert Deutsch contributed photos of them to this website from books published in recent years by his Archaeological Center.

The second section of chapter 29 contains a presentation by David Ussishkin of LMLK stamps recovered by his team.  Gabriel Barkay & Andrew G. Vaughn (hereafter referred to as B&V) wrote the final section covering excavations by the Wellcome-Marston expedition (headed by James Starkey) in the 1930s & Yohanan Aharoni's work in 1966 & 1968.  Some problems have now been resolved while others remain lingering & new ones are created.

Here I must insert parenthetically that even though RAELv4 was published at the end of 2004, the latest bibliographical reference by Ussishkin is 1999, & the latest used by B&V is 2000, thereby missing out on the landmark final report of Timnah (Qedem 42 by Amihai Mazar et al) where some significant data supporting the chronological division of LMLK stamps was reported.  (Although super-parenthetically, I must insert that Ussishkin made use of Qedem 42 for an excursus on the Rosette stamps in RAELv1, pp. 109-11.)  So bear in mind throughout this review that I knew next to nothing about this subject right when the content of RAELv4 was sealed shut, & the LMLK Research website came into being 2 years later.

An example of a problem lingering is the missing handle (currently a gypsum substitute) on Jar 5400.  It was interesting to learn that the H4C recovered from the same room was examined but determined not to be a match (p. 2133); however, it's frustrating to acknowledge that the missing handle probably won't be identified in our lifetimes.

Another lingering problem for people like me who care about details is the identification of the important jar with S2U & Personal stamps first published in the text of BASOR 223 as "10457", in the figures of BASOR 223 as "10456", in BASOR 261 as "10458", & now as "10547" (p. 2133)!

Further frustration was introduced by reassigning the Roman numerals previously assigned to the 8 restored jars from the recent excavations to accommodate the first 2 jars restored by the Wellcome-Marston team.  It would've been very easy to simply add them to the end of the list as IX & X rather than shift the existing numbers, which introduces an opportunity for error when future writers compare & reference the preliminary reports with this final report.

Dr. Ussishkin's use of the phrase "very carelessly impressed" when referring to the stamps (p. 2134) contrasts with the point Andrew Vaughn attempted to make in his 1999 dissertation book (p. 116) about how the ancients went out of their way to make the stamps readable, & suggested that they were only "messy", not "careless".  Those of you with a computer & a copy of my LMLKv1 CD can search the electronic version of my book to review the history of the word "careless" used by LMLK commentators.  I believe Ussishkin did this intentionally because he uses it to emphasize his disagreement with B&V over their adherence to the theory that all of these stamps were made by officials serving under King Hezekiah rather than somebody else.  He doesn't offer a concrete alternative, but valid possibilities are potters or priests or simply private individuals associated with the manufacture/filling/distribution/usage of the jars.  Everybody who's read my book knows that I lean towards the theory that they were stamped by a bureaucracy of priests & Levites as a result of King Hezekiah's worship reformation recorded rather accurately in 2Chronicles 29-31.

It's unfortunate that photos of all 400 LMLK stamps were not included (as had been done for the 400 arrowheads), especially the ones that were difficult for the authors to identify (such as the 2 on Jar 10074, of which only one was published back in BASOR 223 & repeated herein on p. 2139).  Altogether, they were not able to identify 110 (& misclassified at least 2 that I was able to confirm with photos) & it would have only required an additional 4-6 pages.  The primary blame for this, however, rests on the shoulders of museum curators charged with the stewardship of preservation & publication.  How will they be identified & properly tallied when they remain locked in museum vaults?  I still want to see the famous S2x oddity (a hypothetical S2T?) described by David Diringer in 1941 as "a very interesting stamp (K.14/J.14, Pal.A.G.)", yet herein it remains hidden as just another one of six stamps classified as "S II?" by B&V.  But alas, enough details about 4 of them are now known so I can renew my efforts to contact someone at the Weingreen Museum of Biblical Antiquities in Dublin & the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (thus far I've been unsuccessful).

The typo on p. 2134 giving the volume of Jar #8580/3 as 44.75 litres rather than 43.00 (per p. 77 of Tel Aviv journal [TA] vol. 5 #1-2) probably could've been avoided by listing all the capacities in tabular format as I did on p. 80 of my book.  Diverse volume data was one of the landmark impacts the renewed excavations had on the history of LMLK research.  A paragraph on p. 2141 mentions the importance of these restored jars, & the numbers are repeated in a paragraph on p. 2145 (including the same typo) with an emphasis of the min-max volumes (40-52 litres), but I'm surprised by the absence of any discussion pertaining to an ancient bath unit (see pp. 154, 162, 164, 184, 225 of my book for pertinent references to other writers on the subject).

Handle No. 50 listed on p. 2136 is the unusual small, whitewashed one with a different texture used in the 1984 chemical analysis.  Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) vol. 34 #2-3 never gave its specific measurements so it would be nice to know if somebody could specifically compare it to the pithos clay vs. the Type 484 clay.  On p. 79 of my book, I showed drawings of 3 jars related to the LMLK operation, but this handle No. 50 along with Gibeon field #542 probably represent a 4th type of vessel, maybe even a single-handled flask/decanter.  This should not come as a great surprise since we know of a similar vessel with a Rosette found during Shiloh's Jerusalem excavations (a nice, big color photo accompanies Jane Cahill's article in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine, vol. 23 #5).  Indeed, though David Ussishkin describes handle No. 50 as being either an "H Ia or S Ib", it may be an M4L like the Gibeon handle (I had to use computer graphics to make this difficult identification last year).

Handle No. 68 (p. 2137) says "H IIb" but is clearly "H IIa" just like No. 67 as seen in Fig. 29.15.  This is why it is so critical to include drawings &/or photos!  Some scholars may just look at the listing without studying Lemaire's typology & assume that types IIa & IIb belong to Level III.  That is why I've been striving to publish as many photos as possible on the LMLK Research website for independent confirmation.

On p. 2141, Dr. Ussishkin reinforces his earlier published statement that "all the royal Judean storage jars belong to Level III" (i.e., made before Sennacherib's attack).  He says this sans scientific review of the 414 handles listed individually on pp. 2135-8 & 2151-9, but thanks to his publication of all the data I was able to scrutinize them & present them for our mutual benefit; please look at the first table on the Lachish Corpus page.  Note that the authors could not classify about 25% of the 414 handles with messy stamps.

Note one other classification error by B&V on p. 2158; No. 313, Eretz Israel Museum No. MHA40 is listed as having an "S Ia".  That would be an S4C web type but so far no photos of such a stamp have been published.  We can all thank Dr. Irit Ziffer of the Eretz Israel Museum for providing me a drawing & photo that confirmed my suspicion that it is just another one of the common S4L stamps (Lemaire's "S Ib").  Dr. Vaughn acknowledged my correction upon reviewing this evidence.  I hope this lesson will prompt the cooperation of museums to allow me to include photos of all their LMLK stamps in a future volume of my hardcover book series (tentatively reserved for volumes 4-6 (American, European, & Israel museums).

Some of these classifications by the authors surprised me; for example, I've never had any problem distinguishing between the H2D/H2U types, nor the H4C/H4L types, the S2Dx/S2U types, or the Z2D/Z2U types.  Apparently none of the x2T types were excavated at Lachish because I find it hard to believe the authors would have ignored them or had difficulty classifying them due to their uniquely placed inscriptions.  So right off the bat you can see that they only confirmed the presence of 14 of the 21 types--only 67% of them.

But now focus on only the "L3" column of that table to see how many were documented as being recovered from underneath Sennacherib's destruction layer (i.e., Level III).  The S2U, H4L, S4L, & H4C handles above Level III are nullified by the restorable jars found in Level III; it's safe to assume the H2U, M2U, Z2U, & Z4L handles are out of context as well even though their jars were not restored.

All the rest (hundreds) were either from the surface or not recorded.  That's what we have to work with at this point for Level III--only 9 of the 21 types representing 3 of the 5 sets.  That's it!  Not one single specimen of a G2T, H2T, M2T, S2DR, Z2T, H2D, M2D, S2DW, or Z2D anywhere but the surface along with at least 3 handles with Circle marks!

Over 2 years ago (6-30-2002), I wrote to Robert Deutsch explaining my intuition that there seemed to be a chronological division between the x2D & x2T compared to the x2U, x4L, & x4C types.  I predicted that the ambiguous H2x stamp with Circles found in the 7th-century stratum at Arad would be an H2D & the two other H2x stamps from the 8th-century stratum would be H2U.  Likewise, I predicted that the two Lachish M2U stamps published by David Diringer in 1941 had a better chance of being from the 8th-century stratum than the M2D stamp.  Now, less than 3 years later my predictions proved accurate.  I purchased the right to publish Arad handle #115-1 from the IAA on the LMLK Research website where you can see for yourself that it is an H2D; & now this new book confirms that the two M2x handles described by Darrell Lance in 1971 (Harvard Theological Review vol. 64, or see my editorial note on p.211 of my book) as being from Level III are in fact M2U types.

Of course, that's not to say that future excavations won't invalidate the chronological division altogether, but at this time you will have to decide for yourself the validity of David Ussishkin's remark on p. 2142, "all the royal storage jars, stamped & unstamped alike, date to the reign of Hezekiah, to shortly before the Assyrian conquest."  It startled me because people call the jars "royal" based on the stamps, yet Dr. Ussishkin now sets a precedent for calling all Type 484 jars royal.  Note that in the past decade Aren Maeir & Andrew Vaughn have demonstrated that these jars developed over the course of an entire century preceding King Hezekiah (noted by B&V on p. 2170 in the next section), & Orna Zimhoni demonstrated that this type continued well into the 7th century at Lachish within Level II leading up to Type 483 (some of which had Rosette stamps).

On p. 2142, Ussishkin shares with us the foundation of his confidence in dating all the LMLK seals immediately prior to the destruction of Level III:  Nadav Na'aman's 1979 article in Vetus Testamentum (VT) vol. 29.  That's the one where he postulated 2 pottery workshops--one that produced mostly H2x, M2x, & Z2x stamps near Jerusalem & another near Lachish that produced mostly H4x, S4x, & Z4x stamps.  Na'aman merely followed Ussishkin's own preliminary reports that dated Lachish Level III to Sennacherib's destruction (VT vol. 29, p. 71, footnote 23), & he pointed to Ramat Rahel data to support his Jerusalem workshop theory.  He offered no evidence to support the notion that all the stamps found at sites around Jerusalem must be dated prior to Sennacherib's arrival.  Yohanan Aharoni, the primary excavator of Ramat Rahel, did not document which LMLK stamps were found under the 7th-century palace debris, & Gabriel Barkay's work from 1984 remains unpublished.  We all look forward to the work of Oded Lipschits' team following their return to Ramat Rahel in the summer of 2005, although if King Hezekiah's palace was not destroyed by Sennacherib (as Gibeon, Mizpah, & Jerusalem were spared), it will not be possible to prove/disprove any chronological division between the seal types.

Fig. 29.17 on p. 2144 is a very useful illustration, showing in simple form which handles on each of the 10 restored jars were stamped with which type of seal.  It is immediately followed by a remarkable assertion based on the discovery of stamped & unstamped jars found together in public & domestic buildings:  "the unstamped storage jars had the same function as the stamped ones."  I expect this to spur much discussion among future writers.  Obviously all large jars were built for storing commodities, so they share the same elemental function; however, to suggest that the stamps were functionally irrelevant begs further foundation & elaboration, but Ussishkin offers none.  Before the Emergency Buildup theory gained momentum during the latter half of the 20th century, earlier writers were open-minded to the stamped jars serving as receptacles for holy tithes.  Ussishkin did not offer this possibility to his readers, & it would've been a perfect interjection at this point because he immediately opens the following paragraph, "There were more unstamped storage jars than stamped ones."

It comes as no surprise to read the prodigious headline to the next section spanning pp. 2144-5:  "THE OBSERVATION THAT THE ROYAL AND PRIVATE STAMPS WERE NOT MEANT TO BE READ".  The first thing that popped into my mind after I read this was the fabulous hit song from 1982 by Missing Persons, "(What Are) Words (For?)"!!!  He counters the 1995 suggestion by Kelm & Mazar that the "jars were prepared hastily, shortly before Sennacherib's invasion" by reasoning "even if the potters were working under pressure they could have easily made the effort to apply the seal impressions properly."  More to the point, if such pressure existed, then "one might expect to find a concomitant reduction in the quality or consistency of the vessels themselves, which is not the case."  Well put.  So how does he connect this to the inscriptions' irrelevancy?  He supposes "that the principle objective was to furnish the vessels with a mark of official sanction."  Why would people all over the kingdom of Judah--in major citadels like Lachish & small farmlands as noted by Andrew Vaughn--keep officially sanctioned jars in public & domestic contexts?

In my book I follow William Foxwell Albright's 1932 theory that the stamped jars contained tithes (p. 124 of his book, "The Archaeology of Palestine & the Bible"; quoted on p. 154 of my book), then skip to 2Chronicles 31 where it says that King Hezekiah established a bureaucratic hierarchy among the priests & Levites in the first year of his reign for the purpose of distributing their tithes to "every single city", even in the "fields of the common-lands of their cities", but alas, RAELv4 readers will see no such references.  I don't see how anyone can justify ignoring the Bible as a historical reference & assume without any supporting text that these stamped jars were exclusively related to siege preparations.  I prefer to keep an open mind & consider all possibilities until they are disqualified by some scientific evidence.  In my mind, the Bible--& 2Chronicles in particular--stands tall & proud considering that the editor was several centuries distant from the events (of course, maybe a divine Editor cheated by dwelling outside of time in the realm of eternity).

Dr. Ussishkin saved the best for last, though, with his surprise defense of the term "private" vs. "official" for the Personal seals.  This comes at the close of his section on p. 2146 immediately preceding Section C by B&V entitled "The Royal & OFFICIAL [my emphasis] Seal Impressions from Lachish".  He offers an original, relevant insight that these "seals were impressed on the storage jars at the place of production while the 'officials theory' is connected with the areas of distribution of the storage jars."  It's amazing that since the 1984 chemical analysis that determined the Type 484 jars were manufactured with Shephelah clay, nobody has stopped to consider that the people who stamped these jars had to come from Jerusalem &/or their respective geographic areas of responsibility from all parts of Judah/Benjamin to this single facility, & then we would expect their jars to be taken/delivered to their respective regions.  He goes on to point out that the government official "paradigm loses its explanatory capability."  Then he closes with the coup d'etat, "if indeed the stamped storage jars were dispatched to the places where the assumed officials were serving, there would have been more than fifteen(!) such officials at Lachish alone."  The obvious implication is that we would not expect to find more than a few people in charge of the storage center at Lachish during the period immediately prior to Sennacherib's invasion, & likewise at each of the other sites where the Personal stamps have been excavated.  But Dr. Ussishkin runs into a dead-end by revisiting Diringer's 1941 suggestion that the Personal seals name potters, & he is forced to conclude "that once the context & purpose of the LMLK seals is more fully understood, the significance of the private names may also become clearer."

This is an ideal spot for me to revisit the priest/Levite divisions recorded in 1Chronicles 23-24.  King David established these divisions, & it's highly probable they were still in effect during Hezekiah's reign since they were remembered during the Babylonian exile & continued even to the birth of Christ (Luke 1:5).  Indeed, Luke 1:8-9 even records that duties were constantly reassigned by lot.  Is it not possible that the responsibility of stamping the holy jars fell to a different individual each month during the 29-year reign of Hezekiah, thereby implying that we should not be surprised to find as many as 350 (~29x12) different Personal seals, & not be surprised by any geographical distribution of them?  Minority seals with titles such as "X steward/daughter of Y" & "Z son of the king" can be explained as a government official reserving a portion of the commodities for military use during a crisis such as Sennacherib's campaign.  We know from 2Kings 18:16 that Hezekiah was not above disgraceful conduct with respect to the Temple & its proceedings depending on the occasion.

Section C written by B&V opens with a summary of Lachish handle summaries, summarized by B&V:  "a new inventory & summary are necessary, due to the discrepancies in the number of reported stamped jar handles".  Earlier I lamented that an electronic version of this set of 5 books was not marketed along with the paper version.  The first thing I did when I received my set was to type the textual description of all 414 handles into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where I could sort the data & extract various statistics.  Ironically, due to a number of minor discrepancies & arithmetic errors presented by B&V in their own summary table (29.2) on p. 2166 in addition to changes/clarifications that have taken place over the past several years since the time the material in RAELv4 was compiled, I decided that it would be best to create a new page linked to the main Lachish page.  (Note that B&V's Table 29.2 contains about 20 errors altogether, yet they all practically balance out in the end.)

Note that there may be one missing that should've been No. 76 on p. 2137, & one newly discovered S2U in the private collection of Starkey's surveyor, Donald Brown, recently donated to the Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn.

The bulk of Section C's content was originally published in TA vol. 23 back in 1996.  To their credit, B&V admit that their ability to provide an accurate record of the LMLK handles was hindered by the collection being poorly documented to begin with, & then compounded when the collection was distributed to museums all over the world thereby making "the present effort prone to omissions & duplications."

For example, p. 2159 lists two handles in the Reifenberg collection (AR10 = H4L & AR11 = H2U), which reprints p. 63 of TA vol. 23 describing Reifenberg as having one H4L & one H2U from Lachish plus three others unprovenanced.  The problem is that the H4L published on p. 38 of Reifenberg's 1950 "Ancient Hebrew Arts" book is actually the famous H4L from Azekah first published as a drawing in 1899, then the photo in 1902.  It also shows an S2U described as "from the author's collection".  So there needs to be some clarification on all 5 of his handles.  I don't understand why Reifenberg would publish the famous handle from Azekah if he had a similar specimen at his disposal from Lachish given to him by Starkey.

P. 2159 also regurgitates the same classification errors made by Aharoni in his "Lachish V" for Plates 19:2, 19:10, & 19:11.  For 19:2, his "i Hb" should be "ii Za" per the Diringer/Lapp/Aharoni (DLA) system; using Lemaire's system as B&V do, "H Ib" should be "Z Ib".  For 19:10, his "i Za" should be "i Ha" per the DLA system; in Lemaire's system, "Z Ia" should be "H Ia".  For 19:11, his "ii Sa" should be "i Hb" per the DLA system; in Lemaire's system, "S Ib" should be "H Ib".  You can easily confirm these by laying my clear template on top of Plate 19, which is almost exactly 1:1.  Posthumous kudos to Yohanan Aharoni for publishing photos of all the stamps he excavated at Lachish!

After presenting all the statistics for the handles, B&V begin their Discussion section on p. 2166 by candidly admitting that questions regarding "the four GNs ... remain unresolved".  Boy oh boy, what an understatement!  Since that's been the status quo for the past century, it may be more helpful to approach the subject by returning to the figurative drawing board & reevaluating whether those 4 controversial words on the LMLK seals were in fact geographical names instead of 4 literal words (i.e., votives, slogans, or prayers as I suggested in my book).  By analogy, B&V seem to approach the subject like a veterinarian telling a dog owner, "Your bird can't fly because it doesn't have any wings.  I don't know why it doesn't have any wings but maybe one day we'll figure it out."  It's a dog.  It doesn't have wings.  It wasn't designed for flight.  Anyway, that's how I view all the back-&-forth arguments published by archaeologists & scholars over the past century.  Their basic problem is that their ability to brainstorm has been hindered by their steadfast interpretation of HBRN as the famous city named Hebron instead of some word like "alliance" or "society".

B&V demonstrate a further bias by emphasizing the palace-fort & administrative centre at Lachish to justify their "royal" & "official" nomenclature, but omit any discussion of the temple/cult-center at the site & any worship activity that may have been ongoing there prior to Sennacherib's attack.  They fail to mention the cult objects depicted in Sennacherib's palace reliefs being taken away as booty (although Ussishkin interprets them on p. 86 of RAELv1 as "symbols of government or weaponry"), & they apparently see no relevance in Micah's lament on behalf of God that Lachish "was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion" (Micah 1:13).  Does not this aspect of life at Lachish during the first half of Hezekiah's reign deserve some equal time in an objective, scientific report even if we cannot yet prove conclusively whether there was or wasn't any worship activity there?  Was something wrong, or even shameful, being done at Lachish?  If the LMLK jars contained tithes, were an unfair number of them being diverted to Lachish for some misguided purpose?

Figs. 29.18 & 29.19 on p. 2167 illustrate the relationship between quantities of stamps found at each of the principal sites as a bar chart & pie chart, respectively.  B&V only speculate along the lines of royal & official contexts; they skip chapters 29-31 of 2Chronicles & highlight only 32:27-30.  Rather than assuming that the Chronicler fabricated the Worship Reformation chapters, isn't it worth considering that maybe everything the Chronicler wrote was based on genuine historical records & that maybe there was a political reason for omitting details pertaining to the LMLK stamp operation?

They spend most of p. 2168 performing verbal gymnastics with percentages of inscriptions & emblems found at each of the principal sites, & the net result is the observation that "these differences should not be used to suggest that certain emblems were used during the late eighth century & other emblems were used into the seventh century."  Statements like that don't surprise me coming from people who fail to compare which stamp types have been found in 8th-century vs. 7th-century strata at the principal sites.

On p. 2169 B&V join forces with David Ussishkin by reaffirming (via outdated references to publications that referenced David Diringer's archaic 3-class typology) that "it is clear that the LMLK phenomenon is limited to Level III."  And again, they give no reference to any specific analysis of the handles that they just got done listing (as I did on the Lachish Corpus page).  It's commendable of them to say things like "hopefully future finds will clarify these issues further," but it's academically questionable to state a profound conclusion without references to scientific facts.  At the very least they could've said they only found certain 2-winged stamps in Level III but not all of them, or maybe the other types were originally in Level III but had their contexts disturbed by later occupations.  I for one hope that my series of books & the LMLK Research website have become those "future finds" that "clarify these issues further."

I remain hopeful that my remarks will prompt the RAELv4 authors to publish an update to their conclusions in a future journal/magazine seeing that this Chronological Division issue has a profound impact on the dating of Judean pottery & the confirmation of the Biblical record's dating of major events during Hezekiah's reign.  It does absolutely no good for a BSEE like me with no archaeological experience to publish my own viewpoints, nor would it do any good for some other Ph.D. to publish a rebuttal--that bickering has been going on for decades.  Only David Ussishkin, Gabriel Barkay, & Andrew G. Vaughn can correct their conclusions if they deem appropriate to set the record straight.  If I'm wrong about anything I've reported on this page or the Lachish Corpus page, I hope someone will notify me so I can make any necessary corrections.  Just send an E-mail to the address shown in the menu at top-left.  As Malchus said to Peter on the night Jesus was betrayed, "I'm all ears!"

On an equally hopeful note, RAELv5 ends with an appendix that describes a proposed national park at the site.  This, along with Ussishkin's accomplishments described in RAELv1, makes for excellent reading, & it provides succinct synopses of the site's highlights:

  • Ancient Roadway leading to City-Gate
  • City-Gate Complex
  • Piazza at inner end of City-Gate
  • Palace-Fort Courtyard & Podium
  • Solar Shrine
  • Great Shaft
  • Northwestern corner viewpoint
  • Ancient Well
  • "Lachish Letters" Room
  • Judean Counter-Ramp
  • Assyrian Siege-Ramp

The plan would also incorporate a new parking lot & entrance building, which, according to the late Orna Zimhoni's vision, would feature replicas of the famous reliefs from Sennacherib's Nineveh palace & real landscaping reflecting details recorded in the ancient reliefs.  The predominating theme would be that of "The Fortified City at War", & I'm sure that LMLK artifacts would play an integral role in the presentation.  Plans were halted in 1994 due to lack of funds, so we can only hope/pray that some wealthy philanthropist will help resume this worthy project on the revived interest spawned by David Ussishkin's landmark books.

See also the review by Peter James of this same volume of books in Palestine Exploration Quarterly (PEQ) vol. 139 #3, November 2007, pp. 213-7.

"And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel..."--Joshua 10:32
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This page was created on January 17, 2005, & last updated on December 2, 2007