The accepted date for the end of the Iron Age is 587/586 BCE, with the conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army, the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Davidic Dynasty. A glance at the historic – archaeological reality shows that this date is of no significance in most areas in the Land of Israel because throughout Samaria, the Galilee, Negev, Philistia and Transjordan no ruins from this period were found and no crisis occurred amongst the material culture. The events of 587/586 BCE only affected Jerusalem and part of the area of the Kingdom of Judah, whereas areas to the south of it were previously captured by the Edomites. It must be that the trauma of the loss of national independence, the destruction of the Temple, and their impact on previous generations of scholars of the Land of Israel, is what established this date as the end of the Iron Age. The date, therefore, is more historical-theological than it is archaeological. It turns out that the material culture of the country – that is, the types of ceramic, types of buildings, burial practices and even the language and writing – continued after the beginning of the sixth century BCE. Fundamental changes in the settlement models and the material culture began only later, at the end of the same century, around the year 520 BCE. Then the rule of the Persian Achaemenid empire was established, the import of the Greek Attic pottery increased, commerce increased and the settlements began to abandon their places on the traditional tells. At the same time the Aramaic writing and language are also replacing Hebrew writing and the Hebrew language and a new ‘ethnic map’ is created in the country with the penetration of the Edomite, Arabic, Phoenician, Greek and other populations.

The Babylonian rule in Judah lasted 48 years. As for the rest of the country we do not have any actual historical evidence about the sixth century BCE, but it seems that contrary to the Assyrian rule before it, and the Persian rule afterwards, the Babylonians did not leave a really significant mark on the culture of the country.

For this reason it would be correct to consider the continuation of the sixth century BCE as part of the Iron Age. This point of view will end the anomaly in the chronology according to which the Iron Age ends in 587/586 and the Persian period comes after it, whereas Persian rule actually began only with the ascent to the throne of Cyrus in 538 BCE. In our opinion there was no such thing as the ‘Babylonian period’ and the culture of the Iron Age continued to exist even inside of Judah, which had been conquered by the Babylonians, during most of the sixth century BCE.

It is for this reason that the end of the Iron Age occurred around the later part of the sixth century BCE and not at its beginning.