Carl Andrews/Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

The remains of a 35-year-old woman bespeak the invaders’ brutality: Lying on her back with her legs recoiled in terror, her left arm is lifted up to her head, as if to ward off a blow. A physical anthropologist determined that she had been clubbed on the head with a blunt instrument.

After razing the Philistine port of Ashkelon in 604 B.C.E., Nebuchadnezzar’s army destroyed Ekron and battled with the Egyptians over Gaza. He then retired to Babylon in 601/600 B.C.E., but his troops returned to the Levant two years later, conquering several Judahite cities and besieging Jerusalem. After surrendering in 597 B.C.E., and then rebelling in 591/589 B.C.E., Jerusalem finally buckled under the onslaught in 586 B.C.E., and the city and its Temple were destroyed. Many of the Jews were led into exile.