Is It Or Isn’t It? – The Discovery of Nehemiah’s Wall (ca. 5th C BC)

By: The Scribe on Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some archaeologists are claiming that this piece of a wall in Jerusalem is actually the wall built during the time of Nehemiah. Whether or not this is accurate may take some more time to determine.

The book of Nehemiah in the Bible describes in detail the construction of a city wall in Jerusalem, located in the ‘City of David’ , as a replacement for the wall which had been previously destroyed by the Babylonians. Although many historians and scholars have claimed for years that this wall would never be identified or found, a team of archaeologists working on a rescue excavation for a collapsing tower have done just the opposite.

According to Eilat Mazar, director of a Jerusalem-based research organization’s Institute of Archaeology, the team found shards of pottery and a number of arrowheads under the tower, which indicate that both the tower and the nearby wall date back to the 5th century BC. Earlier estimates had placed the wall’s construction to sometime during the Hasmonean Period (142 – 37 BC), but the items found there date to the Persian Period, when Nehemiah lived.

The section of the wall that has been dated to Nehemiah’s time is about 30 meters long, and a portion of the tower that measures about 6 x 3 meters has also been dated to the 5th century. Nehemiah’s role in Jerusalem’s history was in his determination to rebuild the city, a century after the city had sat desolate due to the Babylonians’ destruction of the First Temple. Despite the hostility of neighboring people, Nehemiah incited the Jews of the city to action, and the Bible relates how the entire city wall was completed in an incredibly fast 52-day timeframe.

Naturally, skeptics are calling the announced find ‘interesting’, but point out that since the debris and artifacts were not found connected to a piece of the wall structure, the wall could have theoretically have been built later.

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Tomorrow: Seat of the Roman Empire


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