A barracks or a bazaar? Could it be a temple? Or maybe a stable? Perhaps a storehouse?
These are some of the suggestions regarding the function of a very important type of building that appears at one Israelite site after another for nearly 500 years.
Yet we don’t know for sure what these buildings were used for.
What’s more, even the most recent and most sophisticated techniques for understanding how structures at a site function have done little, if anything, to settle the matter among the squabbling archaeologists—of whom the writer is about to become one—who are debating the matter.
The building is called a tripartite pillared building. As its name suggests, it is a large, elongated rectangular structure divided roughly into thirds by two parallel rows of pillars that create a long central hall and two adjacent side halls.1