The Lachish Letters

The Lachish Letters

IN THE RUINS of a building which is thought to have been a guardroom, close to the remains of the ancient gates of the city of Lachish in Israel, excavations unearthed a number of fragments of clay jars. These were not ordinary broken jars, they’re called ‘ostraka’. They were pieces of broken pottery that were used as cheap writing material. There are a couple of dozen ostraca in the collection. It’s possible that they all came from the same jar, and were a series of letters written by the same person. They were found in a layer of burnt remains which archaeologists date to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 588 bc. The Babylonian invasion is described in the Bible, for example by the prophet Jeremiah: The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army, all the kingdoms