Lachish

Also known as Tel Lachish/Lakhish, Tell ed-Duweir, Lachisch, Lakhish

Lachish aerial from northwest

Tell Lachish

Identified first as Lachish by Albright in 1929, the tell was excavated by James Leslie Starkey 1932-38 and by Tel Aviv University 1973-87.

Lachish is generally regarded as the second most important city in the southern kingdom of Judah.  It enters the biblical narrative in the battle accounts of Joshua, Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar.

 

Approach Ramp

The city was surrounded by two walls including a lower retaining wall.  The approach ramp led to the outer gatehouse which in turn led to the inner triple-chambered gatehouse.  

Lachish is the only tell in the country that is owned by the Israel Antiquities Authority.  They inherited it from the British who purchased the site for excavation.

Lachish approach ramp

 

Lachish area of Fosse Temples

Fosse Temples

Starkey's excavations of the moat on the west side of the tell revealed a rich collection of finds in the Late Bronze Age Fosse Temples.  Three successive temples built here by the Canaanite inhabitants were finally destroyed about 1200 BC.  

After Starkey was murdered in 1938, local Arabs looted all that was left of this temple, especially the remains of the lowest level.

 

Siege Ramp

The only siege ramp excavated in the ancient Near East is this one constructed by the forces of Sennacherib in his 701 BC invasion of Judah.  More than 1000 iron arrowheads were found in the ramp as well as a chain for catching the battering rams.  

This ramp is depicted in Sennacherib's siege reliefs with five battering rams ascending it.  

Lachish siege ramp

 

Lachish palace from southeast

Israelite Palace

At the end of the Judean monarchy, this governor's residence was half an acre in size.  It is the largest Iron Age structure known in Israel.  Built on the summit of the tell, this palace was constructed in three discernible phases which help archaeologists to understand the length of the cubit in the earlier and later periods.  Evidence for the stabling of horses in the courtyard has been found.

 

View of Hill Country

The famous Lachish Letter #4 describes how the writer was looking for the signal-fires of Lachish for the signal-fires of Azekah could no longer be seen.  Possibly the writer of this ostracon was viewing the destruction of the cities of the Shephelah from the nearby hill country to the west.  Jeremiah 34:7 corroborates the fact that the last two cities remaining were Azekah and Lachish.

Lachish view of Hill Country to east

Related Websites

Lachish (Walking in Their Sandals)  Gives easy-to-read information on the location, biblical significance, etc.  Features links to photographs and on-line scripture references.

Lachish: Royal City of the Kingdom of Judah (Israel MFA)  Highlights the history  of  both the Canaanite and Israelite cities.  Copy of this page at Jewish Virtual Library.

The Ghosts of Tel Lachish (Jerusalem Post article)  Written by licensed tour guide Allan Rabinowitz, this description of the tel is both vibrant and accurate.  Focuses on a vivid description of the Assyrian siege, including a description of Sennacherib's relief.

Lachish (Christian Travel Study Program)  Summarizes the history, location, and archaeological finds associated with the site.  No pictures.

Lachish (BIBARCH)  Features informative links within the text to resources such as: scripture references and relevant articles on archaeological terms and periods.  Also offers a "Scripture Summary."

Lachish (The Jewish Magazine)  A comprehensive look at the history of Lachish, from the time of Joshua to the Hellenistic period.  Includes a lengthy section on visiting Lachish with descriptions of the remains.

Assyrian Siege Ramp at Lachish (Dig the Bible)  Details the building of the siege ramp,  discussing the motivation for this method of warfare.  Links to other archaeological sites provide background information on Sennacherib's attack and other methods of warfare.

Lachish Ostracon #3 (Personal Page, K.C. Hanson)  Gives a technical description of this ancient document and a translation of its text. 

Tel Lachish (Virtual Travels, Israel Diary)  The thoughts of one traveler on the history of the site and important spiritual lessons to be learned from Lachish.

Lachish (Lakhish)  (Personal Page, Ancient Near East)  Limited text, but offers a beautiful aerial picture of the tel.

Olga Tufnell (Palestine Exploration Fund)  A biographical sketch on one of the early excavators of Lachish who helped to discover the Lachish Letters.