The Riddle of Ramat Rahel: The Archaeology of a Royal Persian Period Edifice

A new essay by that title by Oded Lipschits, Y. Gadot, and D. Langgut, in Transeuphratene 41: 57-79 has just appeared. Its abstract:

From the time the first archaeologists began excavating at Ramat Raḥel, it seemed evident that the tell was an archaeological and historical “riddle”. On the one hand, the palatial compound uncovered at the site was dated to the Iron Age. On the other hand, the presence of hundreds of yhwd stamped jar handles and many other finds from the Persian period were left without apparent architectural context. Stratum IVb, dated by Aharoni to both the Persian and Hellenistic periods, included only segmented and poorly built walls and a few installations that could not explain the many stamped handles.

The renewed excavations at the site and the final publication of the architecture and finds from Aharoni’s excavations have made it possible to reevaluate the archaeology of the site and its significance vis-a-vis the political history of Judah as a province in the Achaemenid Empire. This paper presents for the first time the architecture and all the associated finds from Persian period (5th-3rd century BCE) Ramat Raḥel. The study demonstrates how Ramat Raḥel reached its zenith during the Persian period, serving as an imperial administrative center, and as the residency of the Persian governor. It also demonstrates that the site declined towards the end of the Persian period only to regain some importance toward the later part of the Hellenistic period.

With many, many thanks to Oded for sharing it.