Biblical Archaeology Review 43:1, January/February 2017

Strata: Do You Remember What This Is?

A. Stepping stool

B. Animal pen

C. Castle turret

D. Altar

E. Doorstop

Answer: (D) Altar

This horned altar from Beer-Sheva appeared in the first issue of Biblical Archaeology Review in 1975.a Dated to the eighth century B.C.E., the altar was discovered during Yohanan Aharoni’s excavations at Tel Beersheba, an archaeological site about 3 miles east of modern Beer-Sheva in southern Israel. Many—but not all—scholars believe Tel Beersheba to be the Biblical site of Beer-Sheva.

The altar was made of carved sandstone blocks—even though this goes against the Biblical rule that altars should be made of unhewn stones: “But if you make for me an altar of stone, do not build it of hewn stones; for if you use a chisel upon it, you profane it” (Exodus 20:25). The altar was found unassembled; the excavators discovered its blocks reused in the wall of a storehouse. Because the altar was dismantled, its dimensions are not known for sure, but archaeologists believe that the altar measured 5.25 by 5.25 feet and stood 5.25 feet high.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.