By Finkelstein and Römer no less!
The Shmunis Family Excavations at Kiriath Jearim‘s first season kicks off in August under the aegis of Tel Aviv University’s Israel Finkelstein and Christophe Nicolle and Thomas Römer of College de France.
“The place is important for several reasons,” Finkelstein told The Times of Israel. “It’s a large, central site in the Jerusalem hills that hasn’t been studied until now. It may be the only key site in Judah that hasn’t undergone a systematic archaeological excavation.”
The crown of the tel is largely bare, save for a 20th century monastery dedicated to Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant, which sits atop the ruins of an earlier Byzantine edifice at the summit. The dig will focus on the area around the monastery. Much of the site, Finkelstein said, is believed to be relatively undisturbed.
One of the tantalizing aspects of Kiryat Ye’arim is the likelihood of there having been an ancient temple at the site, remains of which may lie buried. Such a discovery could help scholars better understand cultic practices in Judah during the Iron Age.
In several parts of the biblical narrative, Kiryat Ye’arim is alluded to as a site of religious worship. It’s referred to variously as Kiryat Ba’al, Ba’alah and Ba’ale Judah in the Book of Joshua, suggesting the site was at some point affiliated with worship of Ba’al, storm god of the Canaanite pantheon.
This really is an exciting site. I hope they find great things.