Shrines from the time of early biblical kings uncovered

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Prof. Yosef Garfinkel with a stone shrine model found at Khirbet Qeiyafa. (Credit: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

The first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered.
Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced May 8 the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Prof. Yosef Garfinkel with a stone shrine model found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Jerusalem, on top of a hill overlooking the Valley of Elah. (Credit: Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Pre-dating the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, inclusive rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects corresponding to the biblical description provides the first physical evidence of a cult at the time of King David.

One of the cultic standing stones can be seen in this picture of the Khirbet Qeiyafa site.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. 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.”

Now, with the help of the stone model uncovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the biblical text found in the description of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6, Verses 5, 31-33, and in the description of a temple by the prophet Ezekiel (41:6), is clarified. 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.

Read more: First Evidence of a Cult in Judah at Time of King David

Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2012, May 8). First evidence of a cult in Judah at time of King David. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 10, 2012,

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  • Artifacts shed light on biblical King David (cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com)
    The clay shrine has an intricate facade, featuring two guardian lions, pillars and birds standing on the roof. The stone shrine was painted red, and its facade is decorated with characteristic triglyph symbols as well as a triple-recessed doorway in front. Garfinkel said the Bible may have referred to those architectural features in its description of Solomon’s palace. The technical term usually translated as referring to pillars (“Slaot”) may actually be talking about triglyphs, while another term that was thought to refer to windows (“Sequfim”)  might instead refer to the doorways.
  • The Hebrew University Press Release on the Qeiyafa Discovery (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
    Images of the new discoveries can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/garfinkel. Images must be credited to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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    The city, which was dated by 10 radiometric measurements (14C) done at Oxford University on burned olive pits, existed for a short period of time between ca. 1020 to 980 BCE, and was violently destroyed.The biblical tradition presents the people of Israel as conducting a cult different from all other nations of the ancient Near East by being monotheistic and an-iconic (banning human or animal figures). However, it is not clear when these practices were formulated, if indeed during the time of the monarchy (10-6th centuries BC), or only later, in the Persian or Hellenistic eras.
  • Archaeologists: The Hebrew Bible Not to be Dismissed as Legend (based on Khirbet Qeiyafa Discovery) (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
  • Thomas Römer and Yosef Garfinkel and Qeiyafa in Paris (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
    Yosef Garfinkel, Professeur à la Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israël) – Portable Shrines from Khirbet Qeiyafa and the Biblical Descriptions of Solomon Palace and Temple. Le mercredi 23 mai 2012, à 14h00.
  • Major archaeological finds in Israel confirm Biblical accounts from King David’s time (ifaynsh.wordpress.com)
  • News & World Events – First Evidence of Cult in Judah in King David’s Times (disclose.tv)
    “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs,” Prof. Garfinkel said. “Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. 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.”

  • Hebrew U Discovery Reshapes Understanding of Temple (happolatismiscellany.wordpress.com)
    “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs,” Prof. Garfinkel said. “Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. 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.”

  • 3,000-year-old artifacts fuel Biblical archaeology debate (timesofisrael.com)
    The fortified nature of the settlement at Qeiyafa is important because members of the “minimalist” school in biblical archaeology, who claim there was no organized kingdom in Judea at the time David was supposed to have existed, have based that conclusion in part on an absence of fortified cities at the time. Building such cities requires centralized administration.

    Qeiyafa would seem to show that such cities in fact existed, meaning that there could well have been a centralized kingdom like the one described in the Bible.

    Other scholars have urged caution in reaching conclusions based on the findings from Qeiyafa.

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