Biblical Archaeology Review 30:3, May/June 2004

Four-Horned Altar Discovered in Judean Hills

By Yoel ElitzurDoron Nir-Zevi

We are what the outside world calls “settlers.” We live in the West Bank, but refer to it by its Biblical names, Judea and Samaria. I (Yoel) live in Ophrah, about 10 miles from the ancient site of Shiloh. Ophrah was established in 1975, the first Jewish settlement after the Six-Day War.

Doron is a second-generation settler in his thirties. He lived until recently in a settlement about a mile from Shiloh. That is when and where he found the altar.

I teach Bible and historical geography at two local colleges, so it was only natural that Doron called me as soon as he discovered it. He found it, he said, barely 100 feet from his house. “Come over as soon as you can,” he said. By the time I arrived, it was raining, so the young people of this new settlement gathered in one of the houses and I spoke to them about the history of the region. By the time it had stopped raining, it was dark, and Doron and I tramped through the mud to look in the dark at his discovery. Despite the darkness and the clouds, I could easily see that he had discovered a large, four-horned altar hewn out of living rock.

Our study of the object, a few days later, was marvelously exciting. Together we have published a scientific report on the altar in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly and in a Hebrew journal.1 We are pleased to be able to present here a less technical report to BAR readers.

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