Biblical Archaeology Review 41:6, November/December 2015

Archaeological Views: Alternate Altars

By Casey Sharp

Many modern readers tend to skim or outright skip the Torah’s long sections of law concerning ritual sacrifice. Their apathy is understandable. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., the focal point of ancient Judaism shifted from ritual sacrifice to the study of the Torah, and the era of the Talmud allowed Judaism to adapt and survive without the centerpiece of worship and sacrifice in Jerusalem. But with the rise of modern critical Biblical study and the excavation of religious centers, such as Tel Dan in northern Israel, a renewed interest in the sacrificial laws and what they reveal about ancient Israelite religion has developed. At the forefront of this renewed interest are altars and how the remains from the ground match the descriptions found in the Bible.

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