Sacred Stones

Sidebar to: Sacred Spaces

Avraham Biran and his team have uncovered several shrines at Dan in addition to the large open-air bamah (high place) near the source of the Jordan River. Unlike that royal bamah, these shrines contain striking monoliths called mas\s\ebot, or sacred pillars.

While clearing the fallen debris of the city wall between the outer and inner gates, which Tiglath-pileser III destroyed in 733/32 B.C.E. during his assault on Israel, Biran found a set of five standing stones (labeled number 3) bordering the wall. Votive vessels, seven-wick oil lamps, incense bowls and the bones of sacrificed animals found in the vicinity convinced Biran that the monoliths were indeed mas\s\ebot.

About 125 feet east of Dan’s outer gate, Biran found another set of five standing stones (labeled number 4) abutting the foot of the city wall, and yet another set of mas\s\ebot (labeled number 2) was discovered just in front of the city’s upper gate.

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