Biblical Archaeology Review 38:6, November/December 2012

Strata: What Is It?

A. baking tray

B. board game

C. cheese grater

D. archery target

E. calendar

Answer: (E) calendar

When this tiny bone plaque was discovered at Tel ‘Aroer in 1980, excavator Avraham Biran postulated that it might be a seventh-century B.C.E. calendar or possibly a board game.a Continuing study of this and other similar plaques from southern Canaan, however, strongly supports its identification as a calendar.1

The 2.4-by-1-inch rectangle is divided into four columns of holes—12 on the far left and ten in each of the other three—and topped by a proto-Aeolic capital motif punctured by three additional holes. As Biran noted in his BAR article, the left column could be used to count the 12 months of the year while the other columns marked 30 days in each month. Small pegs, possibly of different colors, could be placed in the holes to track the current date or other important dates.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.