Horned altar from Gath

27 July 2011
Archaeology

At www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/3000-year-old-altar-uncovered-at… is a reference to a stone altar with horns found at Tel Tzafit – which is thought to be Biblical Gath. It is said to be reminiscent of Jewish altars – by which I think they mean altars described in the Bible from Israel and Judah. It has been dated to the 9th century BC and presumably Iron Age II on the orthodox timescale. However, the site appears to have been destroyed and the report confidently claims this was as a result of a raid by Hazael of Damascus in 830BC. That does not seem too likely, one might counter, after all the army of Hazael were Aramean pastoralists and not an organised force such as the Assyrian war machine – or even as destructive as for example an earthquake. As far as revisionists are concerned Hazael can hardly be the culprit – even on the New Chronology (Rohl or James versions) the destruction layer would date somewhat later than 830. We might imagine Hezekiah was responsible – or Josiah?

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