Gabi Laron

Easy does it. Volunteers and staff members unearth a “hippo” jar (so-called because it resembles a hippopotamus), a pottery style found throughout northern Israel in the tenth and ninth centuries B.C.E. Although found in the massive destruction layer that marks the demise of the lower city of Tel Rehov, the jar survived intact (see photograph).

The excavators date this violent destruction to the period of turmoil following the reign of King Ahab of Israel (872–851 B.C.E.). According to the Bible, during the reign of Ahab’s son Joram, a high-ranking official in Israel’s army named Jehu instigated a bloody coup, killing the kings of both Israel and Judah, and their friends and families (2 Kings 9–10). Soon after, King Hazael of Damascus invaded Israel. According to 2 Kings 13:7, Hazael “decimated [the Israelite army] and trampled them like the dust under his feet.”