תל לכיש (Hebrew)
The main gate of Lachish
|Location||Southern District, Israel|
|Area||20 ha (49 acres)|
|Events||Siege of Lachish (701 BC)|
|Excavation dates||1932–1938, 1966, 1968, 1973–1994|
|Archaeologists||James Leslie Starkey, Olga Tuffnell, Yohanan Aharoni, David Ussishkin|
Tel Lachish (Hebrew: תל לכיש; Greek: Λαχις; Latin: Tel Lachis) is a National Park in Israel. Lachish was an ancient Near East town located at the site of modern Tel Lachish or Tell ed-Duweir in the Shephelah, a region between Mount Hebron and the maritime Mediterranean coast. The town was first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha-Lakiša (EA 287, 288, 328, 329, 335). According to the Bible, the Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Joshua 10:31-33), but its territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah (15:39) and became a part of the Kingdom of Israel.
Occupation at the site of Lachish began in the Neolithic period, reaching appreciable size during the Early Bronze Age. The next significant development of the city came during the Middle Bronze II period when the area began to come under strong Egyptian influence. The next peak was the late Late Bronze Age, when Lachish is mentioned in the Amarna Letters. This phase of the city was destroyed during the general devastation of the region ca. 1150 BC sometimes ascribed to the Sea Peoples. Rebuilding began in the Early Iron Age ca. 900 BC.
Under Rehoboam, Lachish became the second most important city of the kingdom of Judah. In 701 BC, during the revolt of king Hezekiah against Assyria, it was captured by Sennacherib despite determined resistance (see Siege of Lachish). Some scholars believe that the fall of Lachish actually occurred during a second campaign in the area by Sennacherib ca. 688 BC. Nonetheless the site now contains the only remains of an Assyrian siege ramp in the Near East. Sennacherib later devoted a whole room in his palace for artistic representations of the siege on stone orthostats now in the British Museum. The orthostats depict battering ramps, sappers, and other fighters along with Lachish's architecture and its surrender, these along with the archaeology give a good understanding of siege warfare of the period. The town later reverted to Judaean control, only to fall to Nebuchadnezzar in his campaign against Judah in 586 BC.
During Old Testament times Lachish served an important protective function in defending Jerusalem and the interior of Judea. The easiest way to get a large attacking army (such as an Assyrian army, see Isaiah 36:2, Isaiah 37:8 and Jeremiah 34:7) up to Jerusalem was to approach from the coast. Lachish was one of several city/forts guarding the canyons that lead up to Jerusalem and greater Judea. In order to lay siege to Jerusalem an invading army would first have to take Lachish, which guarded the mountain pass. During the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah, the Assyrians, under King Sennacherib, attempted to take Jerusalem, and, in that campaign, succeeded in taking Lachish (see 2 Chronicles 32:9 and Isaiah 36:2). Modern excavation of the site has revealed that the Assyrians built a stone and dirt ramp up to the level of the Lachish city wall, thereby allowing the soldiers to charge up the ramp and storm the city. Excavations revealed approximately 1,500 skulls in one of the caves near the site, and hundreds of arrowheads on the ramp and at the top of the city wall, indicating the ferocity of the battle.
The city occupied an area of 8 hectares (20 acres) and was finally destroyed in 587 BC.
Biblical references to Lachish include Joshua 10:3, 5, 23, 31-35; Joshua 12:11; Joshua 15:39; 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 18:14, 17; 2 Kings 19:8; 2 Chronicles 11:9; 2 Chronicles 25:27; 2 Chronicles 32:9; Nehemiah 11:30; Isaiah 36:2; Isaiah 37:8; Jeremiah 34:7; and Micah 1:13.
Identification of Tell ed-Duweir as Lachish 
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Lachish was identified with Tell el-Hesi from a cuneiform tablet found there (EA 333). The tablet is a letter from an Egyptian official named Paapu, reporting cases of treachery involving a local kinglet, Zimredda. However this hypothesis is no longer accepted.  More recent excavations have identified Tell ed-Duweir as Lachish beyond reasonable doubt.
The site of Tell ed-Duweir was first excavated in 4 seasons between 1932 and 1938 by the Wellcome-Marston Archaeological Research Expedition. The work was led initially by James Leslie Starkey until he was murdered by Arab bandits. The effort was completed by Olga Tufnell. In 1966 and 1968, in a dig which focused mainly on the "Solar Shrine", Yohanan Aharoni worked the site on behalf of Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.
More recently, excavation, and later restoration, work was conducted between 1973 and 1994 by a Tel Aviv University Institute of Arachaeology and Israel Exploration Society team led by David Ussishkin.
Paleo-Hebrew ostraca 
Excavation campaigns by James Leslie Starkey recovered a number of ostraca (18 in 1935, three more in 1938) from the latest occupational level immediately before the Chaldean siege. They then formed the only known corpus of documents in classical Hebrew.
LMLK seals 
Another major contribution to Biblical archaeology from excavations at Lachish are the LMLK seals, which were stamped on the handles of a particular form of ancient storage jar. More of these artifacts were found at this site (over 400; Ussishkin, 2004, pp. 2151–9) than any other place in Israel (Jerusalem remains in second place with more than 300). Most of them were collected from the surface during Starkey's excavations, but others were found in Level 1 (Persian and Greek era), Level 2 (period preceding Babylonian conquest by Nebuchadnezzar), and Level 3 (period preceding Assyrian conquest by Sennacherib). It is thanks to the work of David Ussishkin's team that eight of these stamped jars were restored, thereby demonstrating lack of relevance between the jar volumes (which deviated as much as 5 gallons or 12 litres), and also proving their relation to the reign of Biblical king Hezekiah.
- David Ussishkin, The conquest of Lachish by Sennacherib, Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology, 1982, ISBN 965-266-001-9
- William H. Shea, Sennacherib's Description of Lachish and of its Conquest, Andrews University Seminary Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 171-180, 1988
- Samuel, Rocca (2012). The Fortifications of Ancient Israel and Judah 1200–586 BC. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 9781782005216.
- Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, Tell el Hesy (Lachish), Published for the Committee of the Palestine exploration fund by A. P. Watt, 1891
- J.L. Starkey et. al., Lachish I (Tell ed Duweir): Lachish Letters Oxford University Press, 1938
- Olga Tufnell et. al, Lachish II., (Tell ed Duweir). The Fosse Temple, Oxford University Press, 1940
- Olga Tufnell, Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) III: The Iron Age. The Wellcome-Marston Archaeological Research Expedition to the Near East. Text and Plates Volumes, Oxford University Press, 1953
- Olga Tufnell, Lachish (Tell el Duweir) IV : The Bronze Age, Published for the Trustees of the late Sir Henry Wellcome by the Oxford University Press, 1958.
- Yohanan Aharoni, Investigations at Lachish: The sanctuary and the residency (Lachish V), Gateway Publishers, 1975, ISBN 0-914594-02-8
- D. Ussishkin, Excavations at Tel Lachish - 1973-1977, Preliminary Report, Tel Aviv, vol. 5, pp. 1-97, 1978
- D. Ussishkin, Excavations at Tel Lachish 1978-1983: Second Preliminary Report, Tel Aviv, vol. 10, pp. 97-175, 1983
- D. Ussishkin, Excavations and Restoration Work at Tel Lachish: 1985-1994, Third Preliminary Report, Tel Aviv, vol. 23, pp. 3-60, 1996
- W. F. Albright, The Oldest Hebrew Letters: The Lachish Ostraca, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 70, pp. 11-1, 1938
- W. F. Albright, A Reëxamination of the Lachish Letters, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 73, pp. 16-21, 1939
- D. Ussishkin, Royal Judean Storage Jars and Private Seal Impressions, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, vol. 223, pp. 1-13, 1976
- D. Ussishkin, The Destruction of Lachish by Sennacherib and the Dating of the Royal Judean Storage Jars, Tel Aviv, vol. 4, pp. 28-60, 1977
See also 
- Barnett, R. D. "The Siege of Lachish." Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 8, pp. 161–164, 1958
- Bliss, Frederick. Numerous artifact drawings, also "Layer by Layer" drawings of Tell el-Hesy. Also an original attempt of the only el Amarna letter found at site, Amarna Letters, EA 333. A Mound of Many Cities; or Tell El Hesy Excavated, by Frederick Jones Bliss, PhD., explorer to the Fund, 2nd Edition, Revised. (The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.) c 1898.
- Grena, G.M. (2004). LMLK--A Mystery Belonging to the King vol. 1. Redondo Beach, California: 4000 Years of Writing History. ISBN 0-9748786-0-X.
- Lawrence T. Geraty, Archaeology and the Bible at Hezekiah's Lachish, Andrews University Seminary Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 27–37, 1987
- Arlene M. Rosen, Environmental Change and Settlement at Tel Lachish Israel, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 263, pp. 55–60, 1986
- D. Ussishkin, The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish (1973-1994), Volumes I-V, Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology vol. 22, Tel Aviv University, 2004, ISBN 965-526-601-7
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Tel Lachish|
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Lachish
- Photo gallery of Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir)
- Images of the Assyrian Reliefs of Lachish
- Pictures of Tel Lachish
- Lachish Letters Translated ANET