Biblical Archaeology Review 38:6, November/December 2012

Strata: Milestones: Excavating the Edomites

Professor emeritus Itzhaq Beit-Arieh of Tel-Aviv University, the man who helped bring the Edomites back to life through his archaeological work, died in July.

Focusing much of his research on the eastern Negev in the Iron Age, Beit-Arieh worked on the border of ancient Judah and Edom and shed new light on these Biblical enemies through his archaeological surveys and excavations of Edomite sites such as Horvat ‘Uza, Horvat Qitmit and Tel Malhata.a At the time, little was known about the Edomites outside of the Bible, so archaeology was crucial for discovering more about the culture’s habits, religious practices, writing system and artistic styles. Distinctive Edomite pottery, including unique clay figurines of a goddess with a three-horned headdress from Horvat Qitmit and a double-flute player from Tel Malhata may have been crafted by the same artist, according to Beit-Arieh, and show that Edomites had a significant presence in southern Judah at fortified sites in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E. Inscriptions excavated by Beit-Arieh also demonstrated that Edomite personal names often included theophoric elements of their principal deity Qos, much as Israelite and Judahite names incorporate the suffixes “–yo” or “–yahu” as a reference to YHWH (see article in this issue).

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