Biblical Archaeology Review 25:3, May/June 1999

Tripartite Buildings: Divided Structures Divide Scholars

By Moshe Kochavi

BAR readers, as well as scholars, have long puzzled over the distinctive tripartite pillared buildings that have been discovered in so many excavations in Israel. Their architecture seems simple enough: long rectangular buildings divided into thirds by two rows of pillars that create a central hall and two side halls (hence the name tripartite). But what were they used for?

The first BAR article on the subject appeared in 1976, when BAR was still a little 5- by 8-inch magazine printed in brown ink on cream-colored paper. In it we summarized the views of the eminent American archaeologist James Pritchard, who argued that the buildings were simply storehouses.1 In the same issue the great Israeli excavator Yigael Yadin maintained that they were stables for horses.2

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