News from Qeiyafa: The Discovery of Two Decorated Cultic Boxes

From Barnea Selevan after the news conference this morning.

Based on two decorated cultic boxes Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority suggest revising the understanding  of several biblical verses and practices. They suggest the small boxes are actually the arks used in Israel as opposed to the ark of the desert. They suggest finding them in the rooms is akin to the four times the ark was kept in someone’s house. The decorations include a triple recessed design which could be the “sheqafim” and that insets of three lines on the top of the box are triglyphs which are the earliest found and explain the word “tzla’ot” in Solomon’s temple and in Ezekiel’s description. Other elements hint at the curtain and pillars. One has decorative lions.  Prof Garfinkel suggests that only a contemporary writer would have this accuracy.

I think we can all expect more later.

UPDATE:  As I suspected, there’s more coming- including photos courtesy Robert Deutsch, who describes the objects thusly:  a limestone temple model, a ceramic temple model and a basalt incense burner – dated to 1020-1080 BCE

UPDATE II: More on the news conference (with many more details) along with the to-be-expected ‘see, this proves the Bible’ spin has just appeared here. The report also includes several other photos- especially of the presentation itself.

UPDATE III:  And there’s even a book (boy that was fast!).  Again, with thanks to Robert Deutsch-

UPDATE IV: Now the Hebrew University Press Release is online.

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  1. Jordan wilson

     /  May 8, 2012

    Looks like the house shrines in that old BAR article where one had a calf in it.

  2. Jim, hello… I spent much of yesterday (TUES 08 MAY) playing with the Qeiyafa story, partly in search of a “scoop” for my own web-log — which was not a good idea in the first place.

    Early on, I got off on the wrong track, based on your quote from Barnea Selevan (above): “They suggest the small boxes are actually the arks used in Israel as opposed to the ark of the desert. They suggest finding them in the rooms is akin to the four times the ark was kept in someone’s house.”

    By the end of the day, after reading the official press release, I decided Mr. Selevan was off-base and had gotten ME off-base. Anyway, I “pulled” my post and went to bed.

    Granted, there was a certain confusion of terminology in the official release, but Garfinkel did NOT call the small boxes “arks”. The connection he made, as I now read it, was that the three rooms (“shrines”) which he excavated at Qeiyafa provide a context for understanding the four biblical references to the Ark of the Covenant being housed in a private residence. But the boxes were not the “arks”, symbolic or otherwise.

    Darn shame, too. It was a catchy title I had: “Raiders of the Lost Arks”! Comments?

    • Just because one guy calls something an ark doesnt make it an ark. :)

  3. Maybe you missed my point: Your source, Mr. Selevan, either did not understand, or he seriously misrepresented, what was presented at the news conference.

    TOM POWERS / Jerusalem

    • i think he reflected the sentiments of garfinkel as those were expressed at the news conference. that the official press release is more measured is to be expected. i certainly don’t impute to selevan any intentional deception or misrepresentation.

  4. Touché. From discussions on-line I now see that Garfinkel apparently did call the boxes “arks”. Too bad the release skipped over this key point. My apologies to Mr. Selevan.

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