While the Hebrew Bible and other ancient texts document the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Babylonians in 597 BCE, much less is known about the fate of the northern part of the Land of Israel. A newly discovered inscription sheds light on the question, as Rachel Bernstein writes:
The cuneiform tablet documenting a slave sale refers to a pym weight, a polished stone weighing about one quarter of an ounce. Since these stones were in common use in biblical Israel but not in ancient Mesopotamia, [the two scholars who analyzed the artifact] concluded that the text was written in the Levant, and reflected a business transaction regarding movable property, namely slaves, in the biblical kingdom of Israel.
That kingdom—one of two successor states to the united kingdom of Israel [that had been ruled by David and Solomon]—was founded around 930 BCE. The “northern kingdom,” also called the kingdom of Samaria to differentiate it from the southern kingdom of Judah based in Jerusalem, fell to the Assyrians . . . in 722 BCE.
While the presence of Babylonians in the region has been assumed by many scholars, archaeological evidence attesting to their presence has remained scant. . . . [M]uch of the population of the northern kingdom was deported by Assyria and a new population sent to replace the so-called Ten Lost Tribes.