Weekend Roundup

Luke Chandler has responded to some of my questions about the recently announced cultic room at Khirbet Qeiyafa. I’m still curious if anyone else is convinced that Garfinkel has found one cultic room, let alone three. (Or, did pillars ever support roofs or were they only used for worship?)

The results from the first two seasons of excavation at Tel Burna (Libnah?) were presented at the ASOR meeting yesterday and the PowerPoint presentation is now available for download.

Haaretz reports on the development of the Abraham Path, a route intended to run from Haran in Turkey south to the patriarch’s burial place in Hebron.

Wayne Stiles introduces readers to the first-century boat found on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Jerusalem Post article includes 7 photos.

In his weekly column, Joe Yudin gives the historical basis for locating the Pools of Bethesda next to the Church of St. Anne.

The reason that the Jordan River today is a pathetic stream composed largely of sewage is that “97% of its historical flow of some 1,250 million cubic meters per year has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan,” according to a report described in the Jerusalem Post.

The AP reports on the progress being made in mapping every tombstone on the Mount of Olives.

Another former church in Turkey, this one famous for hosting the Second Council of Nicaea, has been turned into a mosque.

HT: Al Sandalow, Joseph Lauer


4 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup

  1. Hello Todd,

    Just a few comments on your mention of the "standing stone" at Qeiyafa possibly being a column base.

    – We have found a room with columns at Qeiyafa. Room 5 (identified as a stable) has three surviving stone column bases. These columns are well-worked and are significantly taller and thicker than the stone in room 7. The 2010 ASOR presentation (http://qeiyafa.huji.ac.il/Reports/ASOR_2010.pdf) has a good photo of room 5 with its columns on slide #13. The stone in room 7 bears little resemblance to the columns in room 5.

    – Room 7 is the same size as others adjoining the casemate wall, yet it is the only one with an upright stone. Other rooms of similar size did not produce evidence of columns. (Exception being the stable/room 5.) Room 7 is also the only one that has yielded an altar and a libation vessel – both known cultic objects.

    – Roofed cultic buildings with standing stones are known from several Bronze and Iron Age sites in the southern Levant. (Hazor, Timna, Arad, et al.) Small household cultic areas with standing stones have been identified at Lachish and Tel Rehov. Such a room at Qeiyafa would fit well within the context of other cultic discoveries. The absence of figurines/icons should not automatically eliminate consideration of cultic activity. The biblical text attests to a prohibition on such images in early Israel/Judah, even while acknowledging an inconsistent adherence to the ban.

    – The 2010 room is not the first cultic find at Qeiyafa. A limestone massebah was discovered in 2008 in secondary use, placed upside down inside a plastered wall less than half a meter from the western gate. This massebah is described in detail in the published 2007-2008 excavation report.

    * I must make one correction to my earlier posts. There is no reason to identify the small horned altar from Qeiyafa as an "incense" altar. It could have been used for various types of small offerings.


  2. Luke – thanks much for your detailed response. I still would like to see more evidence of cultic activity. If that was really the purpose of the room, one would expect more than a single vessel and an altar. And with regard to that altar, I'd like to see a closer parallel to it, in a clearly established cultic context. The Rehov altar that you cited looks very different than the Qeiyafa one with regard to size, shape, and design. Is there any other possible use, or are scholars predisposed to label household items as cultic?

  3. Todd,

    I'll have to defer those questions to the forthcoming excavation reports. I did not excavate the 2010 room and am unable to research it. I do know that many dwellings/rooms have been excavated at this point in Qeiyafa. Most yielded the same kinds of household pottery, baking trays, storage jars, tabuns, etc. This particular room's finds were unique – a bench big enough for several individuals, basins, the upright stone with smaller stones set around its base, the horned basalt altar, the libation vessel (one of four, I'm told, discovered in Israel to date). I recall that the room was a pure Iron Age level with no structures built over the destruction layer in later periods.

    If these are household items, they are different from the other households at the site. We know the old adage about labeling unknown objects as "cultic." In this case, do you have an alternate suggestion for the basalt stand with the horned corners?

    I don't have access to the full report of what was found in the room. There may be other relevant data of which I'm not yet aware.

  4. Luke – thank you. No, I don't have a suggestion for the basalt stand. But I just finished looking at photos of tens of thousands of ancient artifacts and I don't remember anything like this, so it made me curious if there is a known parallel. It clearly is a beautiful artifact.

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