Thanks to the discovery of several cuneiform tablets, archaeologists have been able to reconstruct much about the experience of those Jews who were exiled to Babylonia after the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BCE. Tero Alstola writes:
An exceptional case of a well-off Judean family in an urban context are the descendants of Arih. They lived in the city of Sippar in the second half of the 6th century, working as royal merchants and trading with the Ebabbar temple. They sold gold to the temple, and because the metal had to be imported to Babylonia from far-flung regions, it is possible that members of the family also travelled themselves. Travelling merchants are an example of people who could have provided a communication channel between the Judean communities in Judah and Babylonia.
Most of the Judean deportees were settled in the Babylonian countryside around Nippur and integrated into the so-called land-for-service system. They got a plot of land to cultivate, and, in exchange, they had to pay taxes and perform work and military service. Under this scheme, new land was brought under systematic cultivation by dependent settlers who were closely controlled by the state, ensuring efficient extraction of taxes.
Judeans were only one of the many groups of deportees who were brought to the Nippur region and settled in villages according to their place of origin. The names given to these villages, such as Ashkelon, Hamath, and Yahudu—the village of Judah—attest to this phenomenon.