Since we have finished in the field (today we finished all the regular fotos and tomorrow we have the aerial shots and the covering over left), I thought it would be a nice opportunity to show two of our nicer finds of the season.
The first is a working view of the structure which I believe we can now firmly claim to be a temple! The structure, which has at its center two large pillar bases, and some of the exterior walls, had various cult related objects found in its vicinity. In addition, a metallurgical working area was found right next to it. It should be noted that it is located right under a cultic “corner” of St. A3 (9th cent. BCE). Of interest of course is the similarity to the Philistine temple at Qasile, St. X, with the two pillars in the center of the structure. As noted in the past, this floor plan might be reflected in the Samson story, where the architectural imagery of an Iron Age Philistine temple with two pillars might have served as the background for narrative of Samson standing between two pillars etc. And just to make sure that this is not mis-understood: 1) This does not mean that this story occurred here (in the Bible it occurs in Gaza); 2) And this in itself is not proof that the story happened! Rather, this might reflect a cultural awareness on the part of the biblical story of what a Philistine temple of the early Iron Age might have looked like.
2) The second image is of the very impressive collapse of a large brick wall that was found in Area F (near the summit of the tell). This wall, which appears to be over 20 m in length, was moved laterally about 2 meters, and then toppled. Based on the tight stratigraphic context, this can be dated to the mid-8th cent. BCE (above the 9th cent. destruction level, followed by level of wind-blown sediment, then the collapse and then 2, late 8th cent. levels). After discussing this with seismologists, it has been agreed upon that this in fact could have only have been caused by an earthquake, perhaps one of major force (ca. 8 on the Richter scale). Based on the dating of this event to the early/mid eighth century, it may very likely be evidence of the earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1 (and perhaps also in Isaiah 6:4).
Now I know all the “friendlies” will now come of the woodwork and claim that I am, shock horror, a biblical archaeologist – forcing a biblical agenda on the archaeological finds.
To this I answer: 1) Yes, I am a biblical archaeologist (I’m proud of that title!), and as such, I use various ancient near eastern texts, including the Bible, to help understand the archaeological finds; 2) Not to use the biblical text when relevant, just because the “bon ton” of many is to stress the lack of historicity of the biblical text, is no more than not relating to relevant evidence and interpretive possibilities – since although the bible is a multi-layered text, composed and edited over an extended period, it does contain clear Iron Age cultural and historical references – which should and must be related to; 3) Tough…