The destruction of cities is a well-attested phenomenon in the Hebrew Bible and in the archaeological record. This essay examines destruction in four timescales: pre-destruction, during the destruction, after the destruction in the short and medium terms, and the destruction’s long-term impact. It is argued that when it is human induced, destruction was a result of a pre-meditated decision taken some time after conquest. Destruction by fire transforms construction materials and makes reconstruction difficult. In addition, a burning city has an imposing visual impact that alters the cognitive maps of the spectators. After destruction, mounds of ruins become material resources and loci for the activity of squatters. Finally, decades or even centuries after the destruction events the mounds might be reinterpreted by the people of the subsequent periods and take a new role in their cognitive maps. This latter process might be visible through ruin cults and in the formation of etiological stories.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2023 selection and editorial matter, Kyle H. Keimer and George A. Pierce.