Being inspired by George Grena’s out-of-context picture of concentric circles of Sennacherib’s clothes on his “Theories” page, I decided to take a few of my own images of these circles using the BBC’s version of the Lachish relief (the most detailed version I have found on the web so far!).
The above images indicate that concentric circles (which are found incised into late 8th and early 7th C BC Judahite jar handles, in almost all cases after the jar’s firing, and in probably all cases in the early-mid 7th century BC) were used a royal motif. Since they fit in modestly well with the Judahite government’s long-standing (at least 20-year old) tradition of using solar imagery on jar handles and roughly half of concentric circle marks are found on lmlk-impressed handles, though lmlk handles make up only a tenth of Iron IIB handles, it seems likely that these concentric circle marks were the Manassite Judahite government’s way to continue the old lmlk system without making new jars. Other theories should be discounted; the distribution of these handles do not correspond at all to the list of Levitical cities (except for Gibeon) for the limited chronological distribution of these marks argues against any broad non-governmental purpose (e.g. marking old wine or the inaccuracy of a fired jar). The concentric circle marks are likely not cancellation marks of any sort, as they are found on non-stamped lmlk-type handles. Rather, the abundance of these marks at Ramat Rahel/Beth-Haccerem, the Assyrian governor’s residence for Judah (64 out of 317) shows that they were likely used as tax jars.