Aerial view of the site. Photo Asaf Peretz, IAA
A large public tax collection and storage complex from the First Beis Hamikdash Period was found and is now being excavated near the new United States Embassy in Jerusalem. The main is unusual for its size and architectural style, said Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Neri Sapir, who co-directed the excavation. The story was reported by the Israeli Antiquities Authority and in the Times of Israel and on the Hebrew Kipah website.
Located about three kilometers (1.8 mile) south of the Old City, the compound is believed by archaeologists to have been an administrative center during the reigns of Chizkiyohu and his son Menasheh, during the active period of major prophets including Yeshayohu.
A view of the dig. Photo Yaniv Berman, IAA
Over 120 jar handles stamped with Hebrew script used at the time were discovered at the site, indicating the location was used as a storage and tax center, according to an IAA press release Wednesday 1 Av. Many of the stamped inscriptions are LaMeLeCh.The archaeologists speculate that there were collected as taxes by the kings.
Similar jar handle impressions have been found at other excavations dated to the Kingdom of Judah, many around Jerusalem. Also, several complete pots stamped with LMLK were found at Lachish in the Judean foothills. These inscriptions are typically stamped with a sun disc that is flanked by two or four wings.
After the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, the site was abandoned. However, shortly thereafter, perhaps seventy years later, the site was resettled and activity resumed.