Radiocarbon chronology of Iron Age Jerusalem reveals calibration offsets and architectural developments

Johanna Regev, Yuval Gadot, Joe Uziel, Ortal Chalaf, Yiftah Shalev, Helena Roth, Nitsan Shalom, Nahshon Szanton, Efrat Bocher, Charlotte L. Pearson, David M. Brown, Eugenia Mintz, Loir Regev, Elisabetta Boaretto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reconstructing the absolute chronology of Jerusalem during the time it served as the Judahite Kingdom’s capital is challenging due to its dense, still inhabited urban nature and the plateau shape of the radiocarbon calibration curve during part of this period. We present 103 radiocarbon dates from reliable archaeological contexts in five excavation areas of Iron Age Jerusalem, which tie between archaeology and biblical history. We exploit Jerusalem’s rich past, including textual evidence and vast archaeological remains, to overcome difficult problems in radiocarbon dating, including establishing a detailed chronology within the long-calibrated ranges of the Hallstatt Plateau and recognizing short-lived regional offsets in atmospheric 14C concentrations. The key to resolving these problems is to apply stringent field methodologies using microarchaeological methods, leading to densely radiocarbon-dated stratigraphic sequences. Using these sequences, we identify regional offsets in atmospheric 14C concentrations c. 720 BC, and in the historically secure stratigraphic horizon of the Babylonian destruction in 586 BC. The latter is verified by 100 single-ring measurements between 624 to 572 BC. This application of intense 14C dating sheds light on the reconstruction of Jerusalem in the Iron Age. It provides evidence for settlement in the 12th to 10th centuries BC and that westward expansion had already begun by the 9th century BC, with extensive architectural projects undertaken throughout the city in this period. This was followed by significant damage and rejuvenation of the city subsequent to the mid-eight century BC earthquake, after which the city was heavily fortified and continued to flourish until the Babylonian destruction.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2321024121
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume121
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • radiocarbon dating
  • Jerusalem
  • Iron Age
  • Regional offsets
  • microarchaeology

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