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Burnt Room and House of Bullae

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Burnt Room and House of Bullae
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Photo Comments

View looking down at the archaeological remains at the foot of the Stepped–Stone Structure.

This residential quarter was burned with the rest of  Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:9).  The floors were covered by a thick layer of ash and in one room Babylonian and Judahite arrowheads and pieces of charred wooden furniture were found.

In another spot, Yigal Shiloh uncovered 51 bullae.  Bullae are lumps of clay that were used to seal the strings on papyrus documents.  Some of them were impressed with seal impressions of officials who sealed them.  On such bulla was that of Gemariahu son of Shaphan, who was a high–ranking official in the court of King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:9–12).  Unfortunately, the papyrus documents were burned in the fire, but the bullae, sealing lumps of clay, were hardened and thus preserved!

For a very helpful summary article describing this area, please see Cahill, Jane M. “Jerusalem in David and Solomon's Time.” Biblical Archaeology Review 30 (2004): 20–31, 62–63.