The site of Tell en-Naṣbeh lies 8 miles (12 km) north of the Old City of Jerusalem, at the southern foot of the modern city of Ramallah. It is 8 acres (3.2 ha) in size, roughly 820 ft north to south by 525 ft east to west (250 by 160 m). Tell en-Naṣbeh is usually identified with biblical Mizpah of Benjamin, an important fortress on the northern border of Judah and the capital of what remained of Judah following the Neo-Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. Tell en-Naṣbeh was excavated by William F. Badè, of what is now the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, in five lengthy excavation campaigns in 1926, 1927, 1929, 1932, and 1935. Final site reports were published, after Badè’s death, by Chester C. McCown and Joseph C. Wampler in 1947. Since 1993 many new studies have been published by Jeffrey R. Zorn (who revised the site’s stratigraphy) and others.


While some Chalcolithic remains were recovered, real occupation (stratum 5) at the site begins in the Early Bronze Age I (ca. 3200 B.C.E.); but only tombs, rock-cut installations, pottery, and other small finds survive. It was then largely abandoned for 2,000 years until being resettled sometime in the twelfth century B.C.E. Tell en-Naṣbeh was then continuously occupied as a modest-size town until about the end of the fourth to third centuries B.C.E. Stratum 4 belongs to the Iron-I period (twelfth–early tenth centuries). Stratum 3, of the Iron-II period (tenth–beginning of sixth centuries), is divided into three subphases: 3C represents the original Iron-II town; 3B consists of the addition of a massive inset–offset wall and gate system (and attendant features); 3A represents additions, modifications, and rebuilds after 3B. Stratum 2 belongs to the Babylonian through Persian periods (sixth and fourth–third centuries). The site was settled, but more sparsely, around the beginning of the second century B.C.E. and was occupied into the Roman period (stratum 1). Remains of a Byzantine-era church and tombs have been found off the main tell.


There are difficulties involved in utilizing the Tell en-Naṣbeh materials. The find spots of specific artifacts (other than those from tombs) are usually impossible to determine from the excavation records. Debris deposits consisted of all the material from within any single room, so mixing of postdestruction with subfloor materials is usual. Also, during the period in which the excavations were conducted there was no systematic attempt to collect and study ecofacts, for example, animal and plant remains. Other types of objects made of unfired clay, such as loom weights, were also likely missed. However, Badè’s team excavated on a wide scale, uncovering about two-thirds of the site, much of it to bedrock. This level of exposure provides a great deal of information on issues related to settlement planning. Also, the study of specific classes of artifacts does provide some general information on patterns of behavior from the Iron Age–II and Babylonian- and Persian-period strata. Because of their better preservation, strata 3 and 2 provide the main data.

Geographic Setting.

The settlement was built on a Cenomanian limestone ridge, which eroded in a series of natural steplike terraces, typical of this part of the central hill country. Within 0.6 miles (1 km) of the site there are four springs, but how many of these were active in the Iron Age, and how much water they provided for the site are unknown. That they were not sufficient to the needs of the settlement’s growing Iron-Age population is clear from the large number of cisterns at the site. Within a 2 mile (3 km) radius there are 15 sites which, during surveys, produced Iron-Age pottery. Almost all of these are one-third the size, or much less, of Tell en-Naṣbeh and likely represent small daughter settlements, individual homesteads, tombs, and agricultural installations. Their inhabitants were likely dependent for protection on Tell en-Naṣbeh’s impressive fortifications in time of war. Tell en-Naṣbeh itself no doubt served as a locus of agricultural resources for the nearby capital of Jerusalem, which in turn provided specialized resources, such as the Solomonic Temple, not locally available.

Tell en-Naṣbeh is one of the northernmost sites in the Kingdom of Judah. It dominated the north–south road which runs along the crest of the central highlands, and it controlled traffic to and from Jerusalem. It was apparently so successful at protecting this route that the northern attacker described in Isaiah 10:28–32 is depicted as detouring around this pass to take the more easterly Michmash Pass.


Tell en-Naṣbeh’s vital role as Jerusalem’s northern bulwark is well attested by the site’s defenses. Initially, the stratum-3C town was defended by the broad back rooms of houses arranged in a belt around the periphery of the site in a sort of casemate-like wall, a defensive arrangement well known from other rural Israelite sites.

Inset–offset wall.

In Stratum 3B the town was further fortified by the addition of a massive inset–offset wall 2,400 ft (730 m) long constructed about 15 to 30 ft (5–10 m) downslope from the original settlement. In places this wall stood 26 ft (8 m) high and was coated with lime plaster. It averaged 14.5 ft (4.4 m) in width, though in some places it was much wider. The walls also incorporated other defensive features. In places there were revetments against the exterior, and below these revetments were often retaining walls and sections of dry moats; nine towers provided additional protection. At one point on the east, the defenses reached 46 ft (14 m) in width. These walls are wider than the city wall of Megiddo stratum IV, which is only about 11.8 ft (3.6 m) wide. Finally, the town was accessed by a massive inner–outer gate complex, 295 by 82 ft wide (90 by 25 m), including a two-chamber outer gate and a four-chamber inner gate. All of this served to protect a settlement originally about 755 by 360 ft (230 by 110 m) in size.

Date of the inset–offset wall.

It is likely that these fortifications are those said to have been erected in the time of King Asa (r. ca. 913 –873 B.C.E.) of Judah in the early ninth century B.C.E., as recorded in 1 Kings 15:22. As a result of the incursion of King Baasha (r. ca. 900–877 B.C.E.) of Israel, Asa fortified the border towns of Mizpah and Geba, each of which guarded a north–south road toward Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 11:5–10 reports Rehoboam’s construction of fortresses to guard the approaches to Judah from the east, south, and west. If this passage truly reflects his activities at the end of the tenth century, Asa’s fortification of Mizpah and Geba may be seen as completing a belt of defenses around the country’s heartland.

The outer gate.

The lower wall of the outer gate is lined with stone benches, which served the social needs of the town’s inhabitants as a public gathering point. Such an arrangement was necessary because, in order to maximize the number of inhabitants protected inside the fortifications, the houses were small and packed tightly together; there was no place inside the walls for people to assemble, merchants to display wares, etc.

Dwellings and Town Planning.

Tell en-Naṣbeh stratum 3 is laid out according to a roughly kidney-shaped ring-road plan, following the natural topography of the underlying hill, typical of Iron-Age settlements in the hill country. Around the periphery of the site is a band of houses whose broad back rooms are oriented toward the exterior of the site. Their entrances face inward and front onto a narrow ring-road alley. The ground floors of these dwellings are often semibasements, which are accessed from the street by a descending set of stairs. Across the alley and upslope is another band of houses whose entrances also front onto the alley. The ground floors of these dwellings were at the same level as the road, so stairs were unnecessary. Little excavation was done near the crest of the tell, so the orientation of buildings in that area is less clear. Such remains as there are suggest a third band of houses, which shared back walls with the back walls of the second band of houses.

In order to facilitate movement through the settlement, a number of crossroads cut across the site from west to east. Such crossroads also provided street access to homes that otherwise would have been completely surrounded by their neighbors. In the center of the town three such crossroads are visible, and it is likely that there were an additional three to five such roads. This combination of roads divides the town into blocks of buildings.

House types.

It has often been said that the most common type of Israelite house was the four-room variety. While Tell en-Naṣbeh stratum 3 has certainly produced a number of such dwellings (about 14 percent of all house types), far more common was the three-room variety (about 44 percent). These houses were relatively small. The three-room type was about 645 ft2 (60 m2) in total area, and the four-room type was about 753 ft2 (70 m2) on average. The small size suggests the homes were likely occupied by nuclear families. Almost one-quarter of these structures had rooms with at least one stone-paved floor, perhaps indicating the stabling of some animals. These small dwellings were packed tightly together along narrow alleys and shared walls with their neighbors. This sharing of walls, combined with a need to lay out routes of access around and across the site, suggests some level of community planning. Perhaps related groups of families (the biblical Bet ʾAb) planned and constructed the visible neighborhood blocks in cooperation with other such extended families.

Upper floors.

Because of the excavation methods used at the time, no trace of roof fall from upper stories was uncovered. This makes it impossible to determine if, or how many of, the dwellings had open courtyards. However, the ubiquity of cisterns in these structures, which were likely fed by rainfall, suggests that a significant number of structures had such open spaces. These would also provide light and ventilation in what would have otherwise been very close, dark, and smoky quarters. Similarly, it is impossible to determine how many dwellings possessed second stories, how extensive these were, and how much of this upper floor space was roofed. One set of data may indicate that some sort of second story was not uncommon. The ground floors of houses along the periphery of the site were typically entered by stairs leading down from the adjacent alley. This indicates that roof level was close to street level and that it would have been comparatively easy for inhabitants to access that upper roof space. In the absence of stairways in buildings upslope from this outer band, access to a roof or second story would have been by ladders, which have not survived in the archaeological record.

Extramural remains.

Badè’s team excavated a trial trench off the east side of the tell, toward its southern end. They also undertook a small probe off the southwest corner. Both areas contained caves which had been used in the Iron Age. The east trench also produced fragmentary remains of a building, a shed, and grape presses. Such extramural excavations are rare at most sites since the chance of hitting remains outside the settlement is considered so low as not to be worth the resources required for such a project. These limited soundings at Tell en-Naṣbeh thus provide important data for activities in the “suburbs” of tell sites, which must have been common, especially in times of relative quiet.

Population estimates.

The stratum 3 settlement seems to have consisted entirely of domestic architecture. No traces of monumental architecture, other than the fortifications, were found. Based on the typical house size attested for stratum 3 and finds of similar, though not complete, house plans at many points across the site, it is possible to estimate that there were around 200 dwellings, or more, in this stratum. With 200 dwellings as a working estimate and an assumed average nuclear family size of four to five individuals, it is possible to suggest a conservative population estimate of 800 to 1,000 inhabitants for the roughly 4.2 acres (1.7 ha) of habitable space. This is a population density of 190 to 240/acre (470–590/ha), which is considerably above estimates usually found in the literature, which suggest figures more like 80 to 100/acre (200–250/ha). Using the latter coefficients leads to an estimated population in the range of 340 to 425 inhabitants, or only about two individuals per dwelling, which is much too low. It is more difficult to assess the population size of stratum 2 because of the more fragmentary nature of its remains; however, a figure of around 500 may not be far off the mark.

Water Manipulation and Storage.

Water is essential to plant, animal, and human life. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which relied fundamentally on their river systems for water, the inhabitants of Israel had to make do with what water nearby natural springs and annual rainfall could provide. Little to no rain falls for about half the year. Therefore, these resources had to be carefully husbanded. Also, too much rainfall at one time could create its own problems, such as muddy conditions in the alleys and standing pools of water, which were breeding grounds for pests. The extensive remains of stratum 3 provide important data on how the town’s inhabitants manipulated their water resources.

Bedrock tends to be higher on the south part of the hill than on the north, and the natural drainage flows in a northerly direction. The inset–offset wall is pierced by at least seven drains, which are concentrated along the northern and western sides of the town. An additional channel fed out through the gates. Three gaps in the band of peripheral houses were aligned both with the east–west crossroads and with the drains through the town wall. Probably, the remaining drains were similarly aligned with crossroads. The ring road and crossroads, together with these gaps between houses, drained excess water from inside the settlement, into the intramural area, and then out through the drains in the town wall.

Excess water from the alleys was also occasionally directed into cisterns inside the houses. Not every house, however, had its own cistern. An analysis of the measureable cisterns, in the broadest excavated area of contiguous architecture in the southwestern part of the site, suggests an average capacity of 5,550 gallons (21 m3), enough water for 11 people for half a year at 2.6 gallons (10 liters) per day. Also significant is that only a bit more than half of the houses in this area had their own cisterns. The capacity of the cisterns (enough for two families) and the lack of cisterns in every house may suggest communal water storage and use. Once again, these indications of shared water resources may be indicative of extended families, the biblical Bet ʾAb.

Food Storage.

The excavated portion of Tell en-Naṣbeh is dotted with 201 rock-cut storage silos. Of these, 115 provide measurements for both area and depth, giving an average capacity of 85 cubic feet or 68 bushels (2.4 m3 or 2,400 liters). A silo of this size could contain about 4,000 lb of wheat (1,820 kg). At 440 lb (200 kg) of grain per person per year, such a silo could store enough grain for nine individuals. Many of these silos were cut across by walls of strata 3 and 2, which suggests that most of them were cut in stratum 4 and maybe even in stratum 5. However, because the remains of these earliest strata are so scant, it is unclear how many of these silos were in use in any period.

Once the massive inset–offset wall of 3B had been constructed, the area between the original casemate-like wall and the new wall was filled in and leveled. As noted, the northern part of this intramural area was devoted largely to drainage. The southern part of the site was treated differently. Here were found 61 storage bins, consisting of pits dug into the fill and lined with small stones. The average capacity of the preserved portions of these bins was 99 ft3, or 79 bushels (2,800 liters). A bin of this size could contain about 4,740 lb (2,150 kg) of wheat, which would be enough for 11 individuals for one year. The 61 bins could minimally store enough grain for about 670 people, if none were lost to spoilage or used for seed. No doubt jars, sacks, and other built-up receptacles were in use in most homes for additional storage. The presence of these bins in the intramural area, not inside private homes, raises interesting questions over who controlled them and their contents. Did they belong to individual households, or were they the possession of some government (local or national)? If the latter, they no doubt provided much needed extra storage capacity for a town along an often hostile border.

Food Processing.

The site has produced a variety of tools and installations in metal, stone, and clay used for food production and processing. Unfortunately, neither pottery nor stone tools were collected and recorded in a systematic and comprehensive way, so specifics about activity areas are lacking. However, the site did produce flint sickle blades (and other blade tools), pestles, mortars, saddle querns, upper grinding stones, and even a miniatures olive press. Many of the grinding and pounding tools were fashioned of basalt, which had to be imported into the site. Metal tools include plow points, sickles, and a mattock. Knives, arrowheads, and javelin/spear points could be used for hunting as well as war. The site produced the full range of vessels used in meal preparation and consumption: bowls, kraters, jugs, juglets, and cooking pots. Analysis of a selection of the cooking pots through gas chromatography/mass spectrometry revealed that they were most often used for preparing cattle/dairy-related dishes.

Olive presses.

Larger agricultural installations were also uncovered. Inside the settlement six olives presses were found. These were cylindrical blocks about 32 inches wide by 24 inches high (82 by 62 cm), which were partially hollowed out and had a feeder channel cut around the interior rim of the upper surface, with a small hole to direct oil into the hollow center. The in situ presses were found in association with stone vats, possibly used for the initial crushing and extraction of virgin oil before the olives were transferred to the presses.

Grape presses.

Only three rock-cut grape presses were found. Since grapes tend to bruise easily, they are often pressed close to the vineyards soon after they are harvested. It is not surprising, then, that two of the presses were found in the extramural trench on the eastern side of the site. The third was found below architectural remains of stratum 3 at the north end of the site. Architectural remains of stratum 4 were scanty, so the press’s exact position in regard to that settlement is unclear.


Given the vast amount of domestic architecture excavated, it is perhaps a bit surprising that only nine possible ovens (tabuns or tannurs) were found. These average about 35 inches (90 cm) in diameter. Two of the ovens seem to have been constructed in the ring road. Possibly, such an arrangement facilitated communal cooking, or at least shared access to cooking facilities; or they may have been so located to minimize smoke inside dwellings. Prolonged inhalation of smoke from cooking fires could pose a health risk.

Pottery Production.

Remains of at least two, possibly three, kilns belonging to stratum 1 were uncovered. The site may have been an agricultural estate at that time, and possibly the kilns are associated with that activity.

The lower part of a keyhole-shaped kiln, 18 by 10.5 ft (5.5 by 3.2 m), was excavated in the intramural area at the southwest corner of the settlement. Only the exterior walls of the firebox and six support walls for the pottery-stacking chamber survived. It was buried beneath the fill used to level the area inside the inset–offset wall, suggesting that the kiln was in use during stratum 3C or possibly before. The kiln was located outside the walls of the 3C settlement, which fits with the noisome quality of pottery firing. Presumably, the potter’s workshop was in the vicinity; but remains of stratum 3C are very fragmentary in this area, and no trace of it was identified.

Philistine bichrome pottery.

No kilns could be associated with the site in the latter part of stratum 3 or in stratum 2, nor was a clear kiln found for stratum 4. Neutron activation analysis of some of the Philistine bichrome pottery found at Tell en-Naṣbeh showed that some of it was produced locally, not in the Philistine Coastal Plain, as the bulk of it at other sites was. Biblical traditions record Philistine activity in the area during the reign of Saul (r. ca. 1020–1000 B.C.E.) (1 Sam 13—14), but it remains an open question whether Philistine potters were working at Tell en-Naṣbeh or whether local potters were copying Philistine techniques.


No clear architectural remains suggesting a specialized cultic role were uncovered in any stratum. Most buildings with enough of a preserved plan to indicate the structure’s basic form suggest simple dwellings of the three- and four-room variety. However, many artifacts which had a religiously affective significance were found: female pillar figurines (also one plaque), animal figurines (primarily horses), miniature ceramic couches, fragments of cylindrical stands, fragments of altars, part of a kernos (vessel with small cups attached to the rim), rattles, and other pieces. The widespread distribution of these objects across the site attests to cultic activities taking place at the household level.

Clothing and Personal Adornment.

Textile production is attested by over 120 each of spindle whorls and bone spatulas, the latter associated by some with weaving practices. The fastening of garments is attested by parts of at least 65 bronze fibulae and another 65 straight pins. Fragments of a few jars preserve the impressions of the textiles on which they were once placed.

Other examples of personal adornment include various kinds of jewelry: bone pendants, beads (mostly glass and carnelian), bracelets/anklets (bronze, iron, glass), finger rings (bronze, iron, one gold), earrings (bronze, silver, gold), and many scarabs. The great majority of this material came from the tombs surrounding the site. The application of makeup is attested by kohl sticks and stone cosmetic mortars for grinding pigments. Jewelry served two other purposes beyond beautification. First, along with clothing, it served to mark social status. Second, in an era before coinage, it served as a way to store personal and family wealth in an easily portable and concealable way.

Writing, Stamps, Seals, and Weights.

Tell en-Naṣbeh produced no ostraca written with ink but did produce many other examples of writing. Fragments of nine ceramics bearing graffiti, mostly incised into clay after firing, were found. Most are personal names; a few contain only a few characters. The site also produced three inscribed weights; one is inscribed pym, and the other two are inscribed nṣf. Impressions of four personal seals were found, though one is unreadable. Perhaps the most interesting is one bearing the names Šbnt and Šḥr. The seal is attested in three impressions from the site. The first name may be feminine, thus attesting to a possible female seal owner. The most famous seal, found in a tomb otherwise containing Byzantine material, bears the name and title of “Jaazaniah, the servant of the king,” along with the image of a rooster in a fighting stance (one of the earliest depictions of the chicken in Israel). It is tempting to link the owner of this seal with the similarly named individual from 2 Kings 25:23 and Jeremiah 40:8 who is associated with Gedaliah at Mizpah. The site also produced 80 nonepigraphic scarabs, private stamp seals, and a single cylinder seal.

The richest corpus of epigraphic remains is the large number of administrative stamp impressions found at Tell en-Naṣbeh. Every category of official stamp is represented. From the Iron Age this includes 88 LMLK impressions (the fifth-highest total in the Kingdom of Judah) and two rosettes, 30 M(W)ṢH impressions of the Babylonian period, 24 Persian-period Yehud types, and a single example of a YRŠLM impression.

It is not surprising that the site has produced so many official stamp impressions. During the Iron Age it was a fortified border town and, thus, would have been a recipient of resources to help withstand a siege and probably home to a certain number of officials. Hence, the presence of so many LMLK stamps and the two rosettes is not unexpected. The distribution of the M(W)ṢH stamp impressions from the Babylonian period (586–539 B.C.E.) is limited essentially to the area of the tribe of Benjamin and, thus, attests to the limited area which served as the core of Gedaliah’s administration. The Yehud and YRŠLM impressions of the Persian and Hellenistic eras show the site’s continued importance as a local administrative center, even once Jerusalem was again the provincial capital. The number of private seals indicates the presence of individuals involved in mercantile or governmental affairs.

Tombs and Burials.

Tell en-Naṣbeh produced tombs and burials from all periods of its occupation. Most of these were found north and west of the tell, with a few elsewhere and a few burial caves on the tell itself. Unfortunately, while there are plans and photographs of individual tombs and groups of tombs, no plans were ever drawn showing the exact location of the tombs in relation to the site. A few fragments of Mesopotamian-style bathtub-shaped coffins were also found on the tell, attesting to foreign burial practices when the site was under Babylonian control in the sixth century B.C.E. Because there were so few destruction deposits at the site, most of the intact vessels, jewelry, and so on come from the tombs.

Tombs of the Early Bronze Age I were mostly caves. Iron-Age tombs were primarily caves, sometimes reusing caves originally used in the Early Bronze Age (for example, Tombs 29, 32, 54); but there were examples of the finer Judean bench tombs as well (for example, Tombs 3 and 5). The preponderance of burials in caves at Tell en-Naṣbeh, rather than in bench tombs, compared to the situation at Jerusalem, where fine bench tombs are common, may reflect the more provincial nature of society at Tell en-Naṣbeh. Tombs of both niche and bench varieties are attested for the Roman period, along with three ossuaries and a score of simple pit or shaft graves. A mikvah was found in the middle of the western cemetery, where most of the Second Temple–period burials were uncovered.

The Babylonian and Persian Periods.

The period of Babylonian rule in Judah (604–539 B.C.E.) has been a relative dark age in the archaeological record as a result of the lack of remains clearly attributable to the period after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. Reevaluation of the Tell en-Naṣbeh data has shown that there is material from this period at this site from stratum 2.

The layout of stratum 2 was quite different from the cramped conditions of stratum 3. The architecture of stratum 2 reflects the site’s change in function, from fortified rural border town to minor administrative center under the Babylonians, in which many of the inhabitants would have been functionaries of the government and their dependents. The houses are consistently of the four-room type; are about twice the size of the dwellings of stratum 3, at 1,432 ft2 (133 m2); are more spread out; usually do not share walls with other structures; and are better constructed (for example, more single monolithic pillars instead of pillars constructed from fieldstone drums).

Stratum 2 also provides an example of an Iron-Age urban renewal project. The Tell en-Naṣbeh excavations produced hundreds of rooms belonging to stratum 3. In situ remains from these rooms are completely lacking. Badè’s workers usually missed hard-packed dirt floors when there were no ceramic assemblages on them, but when there were such assemblages they were noted. Thus, the lack of such assemblages suggests that such portable material was removed before the destruction of the stratum. Moreover, the walls of stratum 3 are usually preserved to a few feet high; in a few locations multistone pillars and even a few stone lintels were found still standing. No human remains, save for a few skeletal pieces here and there, were found. In other words, stratum 3 was destroyed, but hundreds of people were able evacuate the settlement in time. These data suggest that the inhabitants of stratum 3, with all their belongings, were moved out of their homes, the town was destroyed and leveled, and the new stratum 2 town was built immediately on top. The site plan shows that it was rebuilt with much larger and finer houses, fitting the status of the officials then resident at the site. There were other, even larger structures of this period as well. The inner gate was also demolished, leaving only the outer gate for defense; the previous inner–outer gate complex became a residential area. Such activities fit very well the strategy that would have been adopted by Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed administrator of what was left of Judah, who needed to transform quickly the town of Mizpah into an administrative center for his new regime (Jer 40:5­–8).

The existence of a cult site at Tell en-Naṣbeh during the Babylonian period, as a replacement for the destroyed Jerusalem Temple, is a matter of debate. No archaeological remains of such a structure have been found in stratum 2, but structures from this period are preserved less well than are those of the earlier stratum 3. It may be that the locus of the national cult was still centered at the remains of the Jerusalem Temple, though perhaps only nonanimal offerings were allowed there.

Artifacts associated with the Babylonian presence in the area include ceramic coffins, a part of a dedicatory cuneiform inscription on a bronze circlet, a Mesopotamian name inscribed in Hebrew characters on an ostracon, and a courtyard-style building. The M(W)ṢH impressions attest to local administrative practices. The presence of Greek pottery, perhaps along with wedge- and circle-impressed pottery (also known from as far away as Tayma in northern Arabia), suggests reviving international contacts toward the end of the Babylonian period and into the Persian period. All of this suggests some level of proper civil society and governmental activity, if not for all of Judah, at least at Tell en-Naṣbeh. Most of the Yehud impressions from the site are dated to the late Persian period (fourth–third centuries B.C.E.), while most of the Greek pottery belongs to the sixth to fifth centuries. There may thus have been a lull in the site’s administrative significance toward the end of the fifth century, with the revival of Jerusalem, which was renewed sometime later. It is uncertain what brought stratum 2 to an end.



  • Badè, William F. A Manual of Excavation in the Near East. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1934. One of the few published statements of archaeological methodology from the interwar period. Provides insights into how to approach both the published and archival site records.
  • Gunneweg, Jan, Frank Asaro, Helen V. Michel, et al. “Interregional Contacts between Tell en-Naṣbeh and Littoral Philistine Centres in Canaan during Early Iron I.” Archaeometry 36, no. 2 (1994): 227–240. Presents findings of neutron activation analysis of Philistine bichrome pottery found at Tell en-Naṣbeh. Suggests that at least some of it was locally produced, not imported from the coast.
  • Larkum, Mary. “Iron Age II Foodways at Tell en-Naṣbeh.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, San Francisco, Calif., 16–19 November 2011. A standard analysis of faunal remains combined with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry from cooking pots found at Tell en-Naṣbeh and compared with other sites in the region. Indicates a high cattle/dairy component to the local diet.
  • Lipschits, Oded, and David S. Vanderhooft. The Yehud Impressions: A Corpus of Inscribed Impressions from the Persian and Hellenistic Periods in Judah. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011. Argues that the majority of Yehud impressions from Tell en-Naṣbeh date to the fourth to third centuries B.C.E. In turn, this suggests the continuation of stratum 2 well beyond the fifth-century date suggested by the Greek pottery.
  • McClellan, Thomas L. “Town Planning at Tell en-Naṣbeh,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 100 (1984): 53–69. Attempts to redefine and refine the stratigraphy of the site.
  • McCown, Chester C. Tell en-Naṣbeh: Excavated under the Direction of the Late William Frederic Badè. Vol. 1: Archaeological and Historical Results. Berkeley, Calif.: Palestine Institute of Pacific School of Religion; New Haven, Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1947. The first volume of the final report on Badè’s excavations. Contains studies on the site’s identification, biblical history and associations, tombs, inscriptions, architecture and stratigraphy, and small finds.
  • Muilenburg, James. “Mizpah of Benjamin.” Studia Theologica 8 (1954–1955): 25–42. Additional analysis of the site’s identification with biblical Mizpah of Benjamin subsequent to his work in McCown (1947).
  • Wampler, Joseph C. Tell en-Naṣbeh: Excavated under the Direction of the Late William Frederic Badè. Vol. 2: The Pottery. Berkeley, Calif.: Palestine Institute of Pacific School of Religion; New Haven, Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1947. Companion volume to McCown (1947). Presents the typology of the site’s ceramics, including partial reporting of find spots; also cites parallels from other sites of the era. The Greek pottery is presented in McCown (1947).
  • Wampler, Joseph C. “Triangular Impressed Design in Palestinian Pottery.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 80 (1940): 13–16. An early study of wedge- and circle-impressed pottery.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “The Dating of an Early Iron Age Kiln from Tell al-Nas.bah.” Levant 30 (1998): 199–202. Discusses the stratigraphic position and nature of a kiln probably of the tenth century B.C.E.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Estimating the Population Size of Ancient Settlements: Methods, Problems, Solutions, and a Case Study.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 295 (1994): 31–48. Discusses different models for estimating ancient population sizes and then suggests how various estimation models can be applied at a site in which large stretches of architecture have been uncovered.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “An Inner and Outer Gate Complex at Tell en-Naṣbeh.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 307 (1997): 53–66. Presents evidence documenting the existence of a double gate system that had until then been almost completely misinterpreted. Especially important is the analysis of how the local natural topography dictated much of the form of the gate.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Mesopotamian-Style Ceramic ‘Bathtub’ Coffins from Tell en-Naṣbeh.” Tel Aviv 20 (1993): 216–224. Presents fragments, until then unrecognized, of Mesopotamian coffins found at the site, catalogs those from other sites in the region, and discusses their implications for understanding the Babylonian presence in the area.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Mizpah: Newly Discovered Stratum Reveals Judah’s Other Capital.” Biblical Archaeology Review 23, no. 5 (1997): 28–38, 66. Popular presentation of the stratigraphic and artifactual evidence of a stratum at the site belonging to the Babylonian period.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Naṣbeh, Tell en-.” In The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, edited by Ephraim Stern, vol. 3, pp. 1098–1102. Jerusalem: Carta, 1993. Brief survey of the reinterpreted site stratigraphy, in conjunction with material presented in older site publications.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Tell en Nasbeh: A Re-evaluation of the Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Early Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Later Periods.” PhD diss., University of California–Berkeley, 1993. The fundamental study that supersedes all previous work on the site’s architecture and stratigraphy. Includes feature-by-feature analyses, summary, synthetic discussions (for example, the road system), illustrations, and indexes.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Tell en-Naṣbeh and the Problem of the Material Culture of the 6th Century.” In Judah and the Judeans in the Neo-Babylonian Period, edited by Oded Lipschits and Joseph Blenkinsopp, pp. 413–447. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2003. Scholarly presentation of the stratigraphic and artifactual evidence of a stratum at the site belonging to the Babylonian period. Presents in situ ceramic assemblages to date the beginning and end of the stratum.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Two Rosette Stamp Impressions from Tell en-Naṣbeh.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 293 (1994): 81–82. Presents two rosette stamp impressions, until then unpublished, found at the site.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R. “Wedge- and Circle-Impressed Pottery: An Arabian Connection.” In Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and Neighboring Lands in Memory of Douglas L. Esse, edited by Samuel R. Wolff, pp. 689–698. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilizations 59. Chicago: Oriental Institute, 2001. Collects all available data regarding this type of pottery from the southern Levant and northern Arabia. Discusses previous studies of the material. Suggests a revival of supraregional trade toward the end of the Babylonian period.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R., and Carey Walsh. “New Insights from Old Wine Presses.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 130 (1998): 154–161. Identifies several rock cuttings found beyond the settlement’s fortifications as wine presses and discusses wine production and use in Israel.
  • Zorn, Jeffrey R., Joseph Yellin, and John L. Hayes. “The M(W)ṢH Stamp Impressions and the Neo-Babylonian Period.” Israel Exploration Journal 44 (1994): 161–183. Discusses the spatial distribution of these stamp impressions in the Benjaminite area, the paleography of the stamps, and the attribution of the clay used in the jars to the Jerusalem area.

Jeffrey R. Zorn