Archaeologists have found new evidence pointing to the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. They made the discovery during an excavation in Jerusalem’s Mount Zion.

The excavation is part of the Mount Zion Archaeological Project organized by the University of North Carolina. The project has been in operation for over 10 years and has already led to numerous significant discoveries related to the history of Jerusalem, Phys.org reported.

In their latest discovery, archaeologists involved in the project came across various relics indicating that the area was sieged by Babylonian forces. In the Hebrew Bible, it was indicated that the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar led a massive attack on Jerusalem. Although the city’s walls and defenses kept the opposing forces at bay, Nebuchadnezzar was persistent on taking Jerusalem. This led to the conflict lasting for years, which resulted in a great loss of life.

Shimon Gibson, a history professor at the University of North Carolina and a co-director of the archaeological project, said that he and his team discovered various relics such as arrowheads, lamps and jewelry that date back to 587-586 BCE, the period when the Babylonian conquest took place.

Aside from these, they also discovered ash deposits. According to Gibson, the combination of these discoveries clearly suggests that a wide-scale conflict happened in the area.

“For archaeologists, an ashen layer can mean a number of different things,” Gibson said according to Phys.org. “It could be ashy deposits removed from ovens; or it could be localized burning of garbage.”

“However, in this case, the combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction,” he added. “Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”

According to the archaeologists, their latest discovery is very important because it offers clear evidence regarding the Babylonian conquest, which is a significant moment in Jewish history.   

“It is very exciting to be able to excavate the material signature of any given historical event, and even more so regarding an important historical event such as the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem,” Rafi Lewis, one of the co-directors of the Mount Zion Archaeological Project said.

jerusalem The Dome of the Rock (C) and the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount are seen from the Mount of Olives cemetery outside Jerusalem's Old City during stormy weather February 19, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad