Avraham Hay and Michal Roche

Large storage jars lie crushed on the storeroom floor behind the gatehouse where they were buried by Level III debris at the time the Assyrians destroyed Lachish in 701 B.C. Especially important among the storage jars were those containing royal Judean stamps, so-called l’melekh handles. These royal stamped handles always include the word l’melekh (“belonging to the king” ) and the name of one of four towns (Hebron, Sochoh, Ziph, or mmst). At Lachish over 300 l’melekh handles were found. Seven whole storage jars could be restored and some of these were found to contain l’melekh handles. By reconstructing whole pots from clearly datable strata, the excavators determined that royal storage jars of all known types—those bearing stamped handles with four-winged seals, with two-winged seals as well as with private seals—were used concurrently in Judah.