Review of Aharoni, Yohanan. “The Horned Altar of Beer-Sheba.”

Aharoni, Yohanan.  “The Horned Altar of Beer-Sheba.”  The Biblical Archaeologist  37 (March 1974): 2-6.

Archaeology in Israel exploded in the decades following the Six-day war in June of 1967.  In the 1930s and even late 1940s, Albright said that many questions about the temple had no answer or parallel from archeology.  This began to change and this article is one example.  Prior to this the only sacrificial altar known of was at Arad, but it did not have “horns” or they were broken or destroyed in the destruction.  At Beer-Sheba a horned altar was found reused as part of a repaired wall of a storehouse complex in Stratum II, belonging to the 8th century B.C.  The only previous horned altars found were apparently small incense altars found at Megiddo.  The stones of the Beer-Sheba altar were smoothed ashlars, an apparent contradiction to the biblical law found in Joshua 8:31 and elsewhere.  However, because the scripture specifies “iron tools” a literal interpretation may have led them to use bronze tools instead.  One of the stones “has a deeply engraved decoration of a twisting snake, an ancient symbol of fertility widely dispersed throughout the Near East.”

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