Yavneh I: the excavation of the 'Temple Hill' repository pit and the cult stands

Raz Kletter, David Ben-Shlomo, Irit Ziffer, Wolfgang Zwickel

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In the words of late Professor Moshe Kochavi, the Philistine repository pit at Yavneh is the kind of discovery made only once every fifty years. It is the richest repository pit ever found from Bronze and Iron Ages Israel/Palestine, containing thousands of cultic finds originating from a temple, including an unprecedented number - more than a hundred - of cult stands (so-called 'architectural models') carrying rich figurative art, dozens of fire-pans, chalices and other objects. The present volume includes the full publication of the excavation, the stratigraphy, the cult stands and the figures detached from cult stands, several clay and stone altars and some pottery vessels related to burning of plant material, most likely incense.-- This exceptional book raises a host of highly important and intriguing questions. Is this a favissa, or even a genizah? Why are many cult stands badly broken, while some are intact - were cult stands broken on purpose? What is the explanation for the unique stratigraphy and for the layer of gray ash in the pit - was fire kindled inside as part of a ritual? How do we know that these finds are Philistine? Are they part of the 'furniture' of the temple or objects dedicated by worshippers as votives? Do the figures on the cult stands represent mortal beings, or divinities? If divinities, can we relate them with Biblical or extra-biblical data on the gods of the Philistines? What was the function/s of cult stands? Were they models of buildings, supports for images, offering tables, altars, or perhaps incense burners? Why are female figures dominant, while male figures are virtually absent? In discussing such topics, Yavneh I treats issues that are central to many fields of study: religion and cult in Iron Age Israel/Palestine; the history and archaeology of the Philistines and their 'western' relations; Near Eastern iconography, the meaning of cult stands/architectural models and the understanding of votive objects and of repository pits in general. Literally salvaged from the teeth of a bulldozer, these rare finds are now published. Generations of scholars will discuss and reinterpret them - there is no 'final word' for such finds and hence, this final excavation volume is not an end, but a beginning.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFribourg
Number of pages176
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameOrbis biblicus et orientalis. Series archaeologica
PublisherAcademic Press

ULI Keywords

  • uli
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Israel -- Yavne
  • Philistines -- Material culture
  • Religious articles -- Israel -- Yavne
  • Yavne (Israel) -- Antiquities


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