Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem

Letter to Lachish. Written from an unidentified military outpost north of Lachish during the last days of the Judean Monarchy, about 586 B.C., this pottery fragment or ostracon (Letter IV) reads in part, “And let [my lord] know that for the beacons of Lachish we are watching, according to all the indications which my lord hath given, for we cannot see Azekah.” Apparently the city of Azekah had already fallen to the Babylonians. Soon Lachish would also fall and, then, Jerusalem.

This ostracon, like more than twenty others found in a guardroom of Lachish’s outer city-wall, was written in iron carbon ink with a reed pen. The language is Biblical Hebrew and resembles the prose chapters of the Book of Jeremiah.