Biblical Archaeology Review 27:4, July/August 2001

Surprises at Yattir: Unexpected Evidence of Early Christianity

By Hanan EshelJodi MagnessEli Shenhav

Archaeology is full of surprises. Sometimes we don’t find what we had expected to find. Or we find something we never expected to find. Either way, the experience is always exciting—and wonderful.

A good case in point is our excavation at Khirbet Yattir (khirbet is Arabic for “ruins of”), a ten-acre mound in southern Judah. We were attracted to Khirbet Yattir because it was a virgin site. It lies just west of the Green Line, which marks the pre-1967 border of Israel. That probably accounts for the fact that it had never been excavated; until the 1967 Six-Day War, it was too dangerous. We knew the ancient name of the site; it is preserved along with the name of the Bedouin sheikh el-‘Atiri, whose tomb is on top of the site.

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