Biblical Archaeology Review 43:6, November/December 2017

Archaeological Views: Archaeology, Israelite Cosmology and the Bible

By Avraham Faust

A thorough examination of Iron Age II (c. 1000–86 B.C.E.) dwellings excavated in Israel and Judah reveals a strong tendency to orient houses to the east.1 This preference is even far more noticeable in isolated, self-standing buildings, which had relatively little restrictions on their construction. More than 80 percent of these self-standing structures were oriented east, southeast and northeast.

This preference to orient houses to the east was evident also in nucleated settlements, that is, villages and cities clustered around a center, where any new construction would need to conform to the existing settlement fabric. Even there, some 60 percent of all houses were found to be oriented in this direction. The north and the south were also represented, but the west (including northwest and southwest) were almost completely avoided. These archaeologically detected tendencies cannot be accidental.

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