Today, I had the opportunity to visit (with Alex and Itzik from the Safi staff) a recently discovered Philistine temple which is being excavated by Pirhiya Nahshoni of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The site, which located in the NW Negev on Nahal Patish, not far from Moshav Gilat (where the famous Chalcolithic period temple is located) is being excavated as part of salvage operations for a planned railway (and in fact, in a few days will be covered over and eventually destroyed …).
The site dates to the late Iron I (more or less parallel to Qasile St. X) and seems to part of a small rural settlement, one of many such sites that in the past were noted by R. Gophna and termed “Haserim sites”.
In the temple there is a very nice collection of ritual objects (stands, “head cup”, chalices, etc.) and typical architectural elements seen in temples (standing stone, benches, bothroi [favissa pits], etc.).
The excavation is being expertly run by Pirhiya Nahshoni, with the help of Svetlana Talis. Pirhiya and Svetlana graciously showed us the site and some of the finds. So little is known about Philistine cult, and in particular, Philistine rural cult, that every new site (such as this site, and the relatively recently reported cultic bothros from Yavneh, excavated by Raz Kletter), adds so much to our understanding of the site.
I can’t wait for the publication of the finds!! For more details – you will all have to wait as well …