“The Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh” and the Date of the Rosette Jar-Marks

The “Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh” was a concept developed in the late 1980s which, in effect, argues for a revival of Judah in the E. and S. largely due to Manasseh’s integration of Judah into the New Assyrian Order, even though the Shephelah never fully regained its population until the Hasmonean era. Thus, Tel Goren (ancient En Gedi) Str. V, Tel ‘Ira VII, Tel ‘Aroer III, and the Wilderness district sites in Judah (Tabaq, Samrah, Maqari, Feshkha, Qumran, Ghuweir) would all begin in the early to mid-7th C BC, in the days of King Manasseh (697-643 BC). The Arabian trade and Shephelah refugees are important components in this historical reconstruction. The rebuilding of Azekah and Lachish in the Shephelah is also an important part of the “Archaeology of the Days of Manasseh”. My placement of the Rosette jar-marks in the Assyrian, rather than, as Oded Lipschits does, post-Assyrian period, is sufficient, though not necessary, evidence for the acceptance of this Manassite paradigm.

The evidence for the Manassite paradigm from the finds in the Negev is rather clear: while two lmlk handles were found in Stratum VIII of Arad (destroyed in 701 BC), three were found in Stratum VII. Thus, Arad VII was built in the early 7th C BC, when lmlk jars were still in use. Likewise, four late (“Divided Inscription”) lmlk handles were found at Lachish, thus suggesting it was built some years before (though certainly not too long before!) lmlk jar use ended. Lipschits’s suggestion that Josiah built the Ramat Rahel Va citadel/palace is simply bizarre: why build a 70×47 meter citadel two miles (just within viewing distance) outside the capital and use it as a storehouse when your capital is already fortified and has a great royal palace and storehouses already in use? Na’aman’s interpretation of Ramat Rahel Va as an Assyrian Governor’s Residence is far more plausible. In general, the situation with the Rosette marks is much better placed in the Assyrian than Josianic period. Since the Rosette system is inherently connected with the beginning of Ramat Rahel Va (which probably represents a new phase of Assyrian administration in Judah), and it is likely the preceding Ramat Rahel Vb was also an Assyrian residence (if it was built before 701 BC, it would certainly be emptied by the time Sennacherib began his Shephelah operations) we may suppose Ramat Rahel Va, Lachish II, and Iron IIc Azekah were built either in the reign of Esarhaddon or Ashurbanipal. While the latter two may have been built later than the establishment of Ramat Rahel Va and the Rosette system due to the fortification system at Lachish being such an integral part of its administration and the modest amount of Rosette impressions there compared to Jerusalem and Ramat Rahel, a date in the reign of Ashurbanipal or Esarhaddon is still likely, and the fortification system(s?), paralleled by that of Ekron, might have been considered necessary by the Assyrians to defend Palestine against Egypt.

Thus, it seems likely that Judah already revived to almost its Josianic state by the time of Amon.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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