Tel Lachish is the site of an ancient Near Eastern city, now an important archaeological site in the Judaean Hills. We hear first about Lachish in the Amarna letters as Lakisha. In addition according to the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites captured and destroyed Lachish for joining the league against the Gibeonites (Joshua 10:31–33). The territory was later assigned to the tribe of Judah (15:39) and became part of the Kingdom of Israel.
Of the cities in the ancient Kingdom of Judah, Lachish was second in importance only to Jerusalem. One of the Lachish letters warns of the impending Babylonian destruction. It reads: “Let my lord know that we are watching over the beacon of Lachish, according to the signals which my lord gave, for Azekah is not seen.” According to the prophet Jeremiah, Lachish and Azekah were the last two Judean cities to fall before the conquest of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:7). This pottery inscription can be seen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Lachish in the Hebrew Bible: Siege by Sennacherib
In 701 BCE, during the revolt of king Hezekiah against Assyria; it was besieged and captured by Sennacherib despite the defenders’ determined resistance. Some scholars believe that the fall of Lachish actually occurred during a second campaign in the area by Sennacherib ca. 688 BCE. So the site now contains the only remains of an Assyrian siege ramp discovered so far.
Sennacherib later devoted a whole room in his “Palace without a rival”, the South-west palace in Nineveh, for artistic representations of the siege on large alabaster slabs, most of which are now on display in the British Museum. In addition, they hold depictions of Assyrian siege ramps; battering rams; sappers; and other siege machines and army units; along with Lachish’s architecture and its final surrender. In combination with the archaeological finds, they give a good understanding of the siege warfare of the period.