Some 2,800 years ago, a powerful earthquake hit the Land of Israel. Now, for the first time, archaeologists found evidence of the event in Jerusalem, in the City of David National Park, the Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.
“The words of Amos, a sheep breeder from Tekoa, who prophesied concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake,” reads the first verse of the Book of Amos.
“And the Valley in the Hills shall be stopped up, for the Valley of the Hills shall reach only to Azal; it shall be stopped up as it was stopped up as a result of the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. And the Lord my God, with all the holy beings, will come to you,” reads another passage in Zechariah, recalling the event some 200 years later, to suggest how strong of a collective memory it left.
While evidence of the earthquake had been found in the past at other sites in Israel, such as Hatzor and Tell es-Safi/Gath, archaeologists had never uncovered any indication of it in Jerusalem, until they were surprised to find broken vessels and other signs of destruction in some buildings in the City of David, dating back to a period when Jerusalem was not subjected to any conquest or other violent event.
“We asked ourselves what could have caused that dramatic layer of destruction we uncovered. Examining the excavation findings, we tried to check if there is a reference to it in the biblical text.
Interestingly, the earthquake that appears in the Bible, in the books of Amos and Zechariah, occurred at the time when the building we excavated in the City of David collapsed.”
Among the artifacts, the archaeologists found fragments of beautiful vessels and small tables. It appears that residents of the area – which is located on the steep eastern slope, just a few dozen meters from the Temple Mount – built again on top of the ruins left by the earthquake, preserving its traces.
The buildings are located adjacent to the Jerusalem city wall dating back to the First Temple period (1200-586 BCE).
The wall, as well as the nearby houses, were destroyed by the Babylonians when they conquered Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
Centuries later, they would be used once again, as the foundation of new buildings.
The findings will be presented to the public at the Megalim Institute’s “City of David Research” conference, which will take place next month.