Age of Empires

Age of Empires

The History and Administration of Judah in the 8th–2nd Centuries BCE in Light of the Storage-Jar Stamp Impressions

Oded Lipschits


  • Description
  • Author
  • Info
  • Reviews


Storage jars of many shapes and sizes were in widespread use in the ancient world, transporting and storing agricultural products such as wine and oil, crucial to agriculture, economy, trade and subsistence. From the late 8th to the 2nd century BCE, the oval storage jars typical of Judah were often stamped or otherwise marked: in the late 8th and early 7th century BCE with lmlk stamp impressions, later in the 7th century with concentric circle incisions or rosette stamp impressions, in the 6th century, after the fall of Jerusalem, with lion stamp impressions, and in the Persian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid periods (late 6th–late 2nd centuries BCE) with yhwd stamp impressions. At the same time, several ad hoc systems of stamp impressions appeared: “private” stamp impressions were used on the eve of Sennacherib’s campaign, mwh stamp impressions after the destruction of Jerusalem, and yršlm impressions after the establishment of the Hasmonean state. While administrative systems that stamped storage jars are known elsewhere in the ancient Near East, the phenomenon in Judah is unparalleled in its scale, variety and continuity, spanning a period of some 600 years without interruption.

This is the first attempt to consider the phenomenon as a whole and to develop a unified theory that would explain the function of these stamp impressions and shed new light on the history of Judah during six centuries of subjugation to the empires that ruled the region—as a vassal kingdom in the age of the Assyrian, Egyptian, and Babylonian empires and as a province under successive Babylonian, Persian, Ptolemaic, and Seleucid rule.


Oded Lipschits:
Oded Lipschits is Professor of Jewish History in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University and the Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology. He is also the Incumbent of the Austria Chair of the Archeology of the Land of Israel in the Biblical Period and the head of the international M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Ancient Israel Studies. Professor Lipschits directed the excavations at Ramat Raḥel between 2005 and 2010. Since 2012 he has been the Director of the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition, and in recent years he has also been directing excavations in the new temple of the biblical period discovered in Moẓa, a few kilometers from Jerusalem.