Ari sent me an article on the discovery, but I chose this one to link from the Jerusalem Post.
A Hebrew University archeologist has discovered artifacts from a 3,000-year-old community that have created a new understandings of how the First Temple was built, the university announced on Tuesday.
Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archeology at the university, displayed models of items excavated in Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in the Valley of Elah, about 30 km. southwest of Jerusalem.
The religious community, which Garfinkel believes was Jewish, based on the lack of pig bones and graven images, kept small shrines in rooms of three buildings. The small ritual objects are box-like in shape and made from basalt or clay. The shrines predate the First Temple by at least 30 years, but utilize important architectural designs written in the Torah that describe how the Temple should be built.
The discovery of these ritual objects has allowed archeologists a new understanding of the Temple’s construction, explained Garfinkel.
More than 20 architectural terms that describe the Temple no longer exist in modern language, so models of the Temple are based on educated guesses. For example, the Torah states that the Temple had “slaot,” which was previously understood as “columns,” and “sequfim,” which was widely translated as “windows.” But after studying the small shrines, Garfinkel concluded that the number of slaot corresponded to triglyphs, ornamental decorations above the columns, and the number of sequifim was consistent with a triple recessed doorway, rather than windows.
The Christian Post has more about what the discovery means.
“For the first time in history we have actual objects from the time of David, which can be related to monuments described in the Bible,” the press release, provided by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, states.
Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that the find is “extremely interesting” but needs to be examined further.
“The unfortunate thing is we don’t have enough information … to be all confident of the conclusions that Yosef Garfinkel is drawing,” said Shanks.
One thing that should be considered is the miniature shrines that were uncovered by Garfinkel are not the first to be discovered, and some might interpret the finding as evidence of a Canaanite cult rather than an Israelite one.
The date of the artifacts is pretty accurate – they are from approximately 1,000 years Before Christ – although Shanks says it is impossible to say with certainty which biblical king was on the throne at the time.
“This may well have been Davidic, but it’s hard to come down hard on it. But within that range, yes … we have a lot of confidence in the date of it,” he said.
So things are still up in the air on the significance of this discovery.
This reminds me of the story I am following about Dan Wallace’s discovery of the early fragments of Mark. Scholars are still holding off judgment on that as well.