R. Kletter, I. Ziffer and W. Zwickel

Yavneh I: The Excavation of the "Temple Hill" Repository Pit and the Cult Stands

Fribourg: Academic Press Fribourg, 2010


A dramatic discovery was made in 2002 at Yavneh, Israel, a Tell close to the Mediterranean coast (roughly 25 km south of Tel Aviv). The salvage excavation was made after bulldozers hit an ancient site on top of a hill north of the Tell during gardening works. This hill is unofficially (but amply) called “the temple hill” since the 1960s. Excavation revealed a repository pit (favissa in Latin or Genizah in Hebrew) with thousands of temple objects. In the pit there were thousands of broken chalices (cup-like vessels) and bowls, many showing traces of burning, probably from use as incense burners. We also found fire pans- a type of Aegean incense vessel never before encountered in Israel/Palestine; some large round offering vessels (thymeteria) and several altars of various shapes. The most startling finds were 120 cultic stands, rich with figures of humans, plants and animals. These are crucial for understanding Philistine art and religion from a period, which left almost no written sources (c. 9th century BC). It is a spectacular discovery, being the richest and best-preserved repository pit even found in the southern Levant. The finds from the pit also shed light on the use of incense in the cult and on ‘western’ features in Philistine material culture.


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