For the first time, archaeologists have uncovered shrines from the time of the early Biblical kings in the Holy Land, providing the earliest evidence of a cult, they say.More at the Cosmic Log at MSNBC.
Excavation within the remains of the roughly 3,000-year-old fortified city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, located about 19 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem, have revealed three large rooms used as shrines, along with artifacts, including tools, pottery and objects, such as alters associated with worship.
* * *
The discoveries offer a clue to the timing, since they contain none of the human or animal figurines common at other sites. No bones from pigs showed up here or elsewhere in the city.
"This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two Biblical bans — on pork and on graven images — and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines," Garfinkel said in a press release issued by the university. The discoveries also offer support for the Biblical depiction of King David, he said.
Garfinkel suggests some of the features and styles of the structures appear analogous to those described in the Bible. For instance, one of the shrines, the clay one, is decorated with an elaborate façade that includes two guardian lions, two pillars, folded textile and three birds standing on the roof. The two pillars are suggestive, he said, of Yachin and Boaz described in the Bible as belonging to Solomon's Temple.