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Coordinates: 31 ° 34 '  N , 34 ° 51'  E

Relief Map: Israel

Lachish ( Hebrew לכיש, laḵîš ; Akkadian URU Lakišu , URU Lakiša ; ancient Greek Λαχις ; Latin Lachis ), today's Tell ed-Duwer, was an ancient city 44 km southwest of Jerusalem . It was one of the most important fortresses to protect the Schefela , the Judean hill country. The Tell of Lachish ( Hebrew תל לכיש) is located in the area of ​​the Moshavs Lachish, founded in 1955, in the Israeli southern district . The tell was up to 40 m high, had an area of ​​around 7.3 hectares, an almost rectangular shape and steeply sloping slopes.


Lachish in hieroglyphics
New kingdom
D21 Z1 V31
M8 G1 T14 N25

City gate in Lachisch

The city is mentioned in the Amarna letters (correspondence of the kings Zimredda in EA 329, Jabni-ilu in EA 328 and Sipitba'lu in EA 330-332). Under Thutmose III. Lachish is referred to as the enemy of Egypt . The siege of the city by Sennacherib is depicted on the relief named after the city from the southwest palace of Nineveh .

In the Bible , Lachish is mentioned for the first time in Jos 10.3  EU as a kingdom that was conquered in the course of the conquest of the Israelites .

The second book of kings, chapters 18 and 19, describes the campaign of the Assyrian king Sennacherib . In the 14th year of the reign of Hezekiah , king of Judah, Sennacherib took "all the fortified cities of Judah" ( 2 Kings 18.13  EU ), including Lachish. The campaign began with the defection of Hezekiah from the Assyrian king.

Hezekiah sent an embassy to Lachish and asked for mercy ( 2 Kings 18.14  EU ). Although Hezekiah was able to obtain the required 300 quintals of silver and 30 quintals of gold by plundering the temple, Sennacherib sent his troops against Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 18 : 14-16  EU ).

The prophet Jeremiah mentions Lachish as one of the last cities to be conquered by the Babylonians before Jerusalem .

Research history

Research began in 1878 with Claude Reignier Conder , who believed Tell el-Hesi to be the biblical city. William Foxwell Albright identified Tell ed-Duwer as the historical Lachish based on the onomasticon of Eusebius of Caesarea in 1929 , which was confirmed by later excavations.

The exploration of the tell itself began in 1932 under the direction of James L. Starkey , who carried out extensive excavations with Harding and Tufnell on the Tell ed-Duwer and on the surrounding hills. In particular, the north-western slope of the hill was completely exposed, as the British wanted to set up the spoil dump here for their further excavations. During their investigations, they discovered the city gates from the Judean and Persian times (in Stratum I and II), the outer defensive wall, a residence from the Persian period and a solar sanctuary. The assassination of Starkey in 1938 ended the excavations.

In 1966 and 1968, Yohanan Aharoni began small-scale excavations, especially in the area of ​​the Sun Shrine. They were carried out by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and then the University of Tel Aviv and were primarily intended to prove the similarity of the Lachish Sun Sanctuary to the Israelite temple in the Citadel of Tel Arad discovered by Aharoni .

From 1973 to 1994 the excavations were continued by David Ussishkin . The investigations focused on the areas excavated by Starkey, but also covered other areas of the tell. The focus of the excavation was on an elongated and narrow section on the western edge of the hill, which was to be removed down to the natural soil. The oldest stratum came from the Bronze Age. Above was a palace from the Bronze Age and a Jewish palace fortress. Further city gates and an area in the southwest of the hill were uncovered, where it was assumed that the Assyrians had broken through the city wall here.

In 1979, Yehuda Dagan began a survey of the Schefela , the results of which are also of importance for the study of tell. In 1985 the restoration of the city gates began, but was canceled due to lack of funds.


Bronze age

Aerial view of Tel ed-Duwer with the neighboring Moschav Lachisch
Plateau of tell
Remains of the gate system
Well in the NE of the plateau

Settlement in the area around Tell ed-Duwer began in the ceramic Neolithic (6500 to 5000 BC). The hill itself, as far as it was excavated, was not settled until the Early Bronze Age. The inhabitants of this settlement gave up and settled on one of the neighboring hills.

Tell was repopulated in the early Middle Bronze Age, as evidenced by a cult site and consecration offerings. This settlement grew into an important fortified city as the Middle Bronze Age progressed. It was surrounded by a glacis that gave the Tell its current rectangular shape with the steep slopes. To the west stood a moat fortified palace that was partially excavated. Richly furnished graves lay around the Tell. Around 1,500 BC BC this settlement was probably destroyed by fire .

As a result, the settlement was rebuilt, initially without fortifications. It grew slowly and became one of the largest and most prosperous cities in Canaan. Letters from the rulers of Lachish Zimreddi were found in the Amarna archive . After the attack by the Sea Peoples , Lachish still appears to be in the reign of Ramses VI. to have been under the control of Egypt . A short time later, the city burned around 1130 BC. Completely down and remained uninhabited for a long time.

Iron Age (Stratum V to III)

In the 10th century BC The Tell was rebuilt, probably with a small fortification. Scheschonq I first destroyed the place in 926 BC. BC (Stratum V) on his Palestine campaign. After the reconstruction, Lachisch developed into the largest and most important garrison and residence city after Jerusalem , which had a massive fortification system and a large palace. The main reason is the strategic location at a defensible point in the Wadi el-Gafr , through which an important trade route ran from the coastal plain to Hebron . In addition, the coastal plain was clearly visible from Lachisch, as well as the areas up to the hills of Hebron and as far as Marescha . Lachisch was surrounded by fertile lands and its water supply was secured by several springs. As there are no inscriptions from this period, it is impossible to say who expanded the city. Lachish was believed to be the main fortress of the Kingdom of Judah .

The Iron Age Lachish was surrounded by a six meter thick city ​​wall made of mud bricks on stone foundations. The wall that surrounded the entire plateau of the hill was preceded by the glacis of the previous settlement, which was surrounded by another wall, which was supposed to support it above all. One entered the city through one of the most powerful city ​​gates known so far (Stratum III) from the royal era , which connected the city wall with the outer wall. It consisted of an outer gate in north-south direction on the slope, which was reached via a paved road from the foot of the hill. Behind this outer gate was a courtyard, at the eastern end of which (i.e. at a 90 ° angle to the outer gate) was a gatehouse with a 5.20 meter wide six-chamber gate . The buildings in the city were destroyed, perhaps by the earthquake around 760 BC mentioned in Am 1,1  EU and Sach 14,1  EU . The city was quickly rebuilt according to the plan of the destroyed settlement, whereby the residential buildings were laid out much more densely.

In the center of this rebuilt city was a palace fortress, the foundations of which are still visible today. This complex included its predecessor and its predecessor from the Iron Age, had a floor area of ​​37 × 76 meters, making it the largest Iron Age house in Judea to date. This palace could be reached via a converted forecourt through another six-chamber gate. The reconstruction of the courtyard consisted of long, narrow buildings, which are often interpreted as magazines . Right next to the gate there were larger buildings, perhaps market halls, stables or storage rooms, of which only the foundations have been preserved. In the eastern part of the hill there was a shaft 22 meters wide, 25 meters long and 22.5 meters deep, which was probably initially used as a quarry, but later, like similar structures in Hazor and Megiddo , was supposed to open up a deeper spring. however, it was never completed. The most important source of water in the settlement was a well around 44 meters deep on the northeastern edge of the plateau.

Conquest of the city by Sennacherib and renewed destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II (Stratum II)

The end of Stratum III marks the destruction of the fortified Judean Lachish in 701 BC. By the Assyrian king Sennacherib ; in addition to the excavation finds and Assyrian records also attested by the Old Testament . The reason for Sennacherib's campaign was King Hezekiah's attempt to free himself from Assyrian rule, when Sennacherib in 705 BC. After the death of Sargon II ascended the throne. The invasion of Judea took place in 701 BC. BC, with Lachisch as the most important fortress in the region and his primary target.

According to 2 Kings 18,13ff. EU conquered Sennacherib the country, besieged Lachish and sent its forces from there to Jerusalem . The Assyrians conquered Lachish from the southwest, where a gently sloping slope represented a weak point in the fortification. With around 13,000 to 19,000 tons of building material, they heaped up a 50 to 60 meter long and around 75 meter wide siege ramp that reached as far as the retaining wall of the glacis. This is the only Assyrian siege ramp that has been found so far and at the same time the oldest ever found. There they brought their siege weapons into position. The residents of Lachisch strengthened their city walls at this point by filling them with earth. A great battle ensued, fragments of scale armor , bridles, slingshots and spearheads made of iron and bone have been preserved. A total of 850 spearheads were found at the presumed breakthrough point of the Assyrians alone, as well as two 100 to 200 kg stones that were perhaps used by the defenders as swinging hammer. A mass grave with 1500 skeletons was found by Starkey on the western slope, most of which are interpreted as civilian victims of this battle. After the conquest, the city was completely burned down.

After the city was destroyed, Tell ed-Duwer was no longer inhabited for a long time. It is possible that a fortified city was only built under Josiah , which was established by Nebuchadnezzar II in 587 BC. Chr. Was destroyed. According to Jer 34.7  EU , Lachish was one of the last two cities to be conquered before Jerusalem. In the following years Lachisch functioned as an administrative residence in the Babylonian Empire. Further isolated buildings can then be identified up to the Hellenistic period.


Fragment of a Lachish ostracon

In 1930 numerous ostraka (shards of pottery used as writing material) from the time of Nebuchadnezzar were discovered. These Lachish letters were written by outposts of the Jewish troops to Ja´oš , a troop commander in Lachish. The documents written in everyday language are practically indistinguishable from the Hebrew of the Old Testament in terms of vocabulary and grammar . The divine name YHWH is often used in the letters, which shows that its use was not taboo.

A fragment of the bronze hinge of the city gate and the remains of charred acacia wood , which was also built into the door system, were found, as well as 478 stamped handles from clay jugs, most of which came from royal pottery. They contained between 39 and 52 liters of cavity and were probably made in the Lachisch area.

In February 2020, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Canaanite temple. The scientists identified two periods of major destruction on the structural remains: in the middle of the 13th and mid-12th centuries BC.


Web links

Commons : Lachish  - collection of images, videos, and audio files


  1. The name of Ramses VI. stood on the pedestal of a statue found in Megiddo.
  2. Canaanite temple exposed. , February 18, 2020, accessed on February 23, 2020 .