Archaeologists have discovered houses that were at least 2,500 years old, dating from the time of Bayis Rishon – and which were destroyed by the Babylonians during the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and much of Yerushalayim at the time. The homes were found on the eastern slope of the City of David, in the archaeological park surrounding the Old City. According to archaeologists, the findings display the opulence and wealth of Yerusahalayim at the time of Churban Bayis Rishon. The project was carried out by the Antiquities Authority,with funding from the Elad organization, with the assistance of the Weizmann Institute.
The homes, located outside the walls of the city – indicating clearly that there had been Jewish settlement outside the city walls even at that time – were found buried under a pile of stones, possibly belonging to other buildings that were pillaged and destroyed by the Babylonians. Inside the home, archaeologists found large numbers of items that were associated with Jewish households of the time, including many clay pots, vessels for food consumption, fish bones and grape stones, and numerous unique works of art. Signs of fire and other destruction indicated that the house was part of a conflagration that was set as part of the Churban, the researchers found.
Among the vessels found were dozens meant for the storage of wheat and of liquids, and several were stamped with the image of a “rosetta” – a rose with six petals, a symbol which was associated with the government of those days, archaeologists said, allowing tax collectors and others to keep track of harvests and supplies. Also discovered were numerous works of art in very good condition, including a sculpture made of ivory – indicating the high standard of living in ancient Yerushalayim, archaeologists said.
“The findings make it clear that the city of Yerushalayim spread beyond the city walls before Churban Bayis Rishon,” according to the heads of the digging project, Ortal Calef and Dr. Joe Uziel. “The houses we uncovered were well beyond where the Old City walls were located at that time. We see that Yerushalayim underwent a constant growth throughout the iron age. Previous digs in the Jewish Quarter showed how the area west of Yerushalayim of those days was eventually integrated into the city. The new findings indicate that the same process occurred on the eastern side of the city, where homes were built beyond the city walls.”