From the 8th to the 6th centuries BCE, the Kingdom of Judah was the sole Israelite polity in the land of Israel; it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The Persian empire, after seizing the territory for itself, created a province called Yehud, which existed from the 5th through the 3rd centuries BCE. Drawing on the distribution of ancient artifacts, Ephraim Stern argues that there is sufficient evidence to reconstruct the geographical borders of these areas:
Two types of Judean artifacts are particularly useful for reconstructing the borders of Judah: the pillar figurines unique to the kingdom, dating to the 8th-6th centuries BCE, and the rosette-stamp impressions from the late monarchic period, that is, the 7th and beginning of the 6th centuries BCE.
At least 1,500 pillar figurines have been found at Judean sites (almost half of them from Jerusalem itself). And the heavy concentration of rosette seals in Judah and [their absence from the] neighboring kingdom of Israel, even at a time when Judah and Israel maintained close relations and likely traded with one another heavily, establishes a clear northern border for Judah.
Although there are far fewer stamp impressions than pillar figurines from the period of the Judean monarchy, primarily because they were in use for a much shorter time, their distribution follows the same southern border. . . .
According to the biblical sources (for example, Nehemiah 3), the area of Yehud in the Persian period was divided into six districts. Seal impressions have been found in each of these districts, indicating that the biblical account is based on historical reality.
More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Persia, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Judah