3,300-Year-Old Possible Ritual Site Uncovered at Tel Burma

October 24, 2014

2 min read

A 3,300-year-old building has been uncovered at the Tel Burma archaeological site near Kiryat Gat, and evidence suggests it may have been used as a worship site.

The site at Tel Burma. (Photo: Institute of Archaeology)
The site at Tel Burma. (Photo: Institute of Archaeology)

Dr. Itzhaq Shai, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Ariel University, made the discovery, and while he says it is too soon to be certain, he believes further research could bear out the theory that the building was once a temple.

“This is definitely an important building reserved for the elite; it is clear ritual practices took place here,” Shai said.

Among the artifacts unearthed in the dig are figurines, goblets, chalices, cup and saucer, votive vessels and fragments of ceremonial masks.

Tel Burma is identified by some archaeologists as the location of the Biblical city of Libnah. It sits five miles east of modern-day Kiryat Gat, inland of the coast. This makes another discovery there particularly unusual.

In the courtyard of the building, Shai’s team found two large storage vessels called pithoi, each capable of holding some two hundred liters. To find these vessels in a small town that is not part of a port is very surprising,” Shai explained.

Analysis of the excavated material is taking place at the Ariel University, and until that is complete, experts won’t be sure what the large building, the courtyard of which measured sixteen by sixteen meters, was used for. “It could be that this was in fact a palace, we cannot be certain at this point so I’m not saying conclusively that this was a temple,” Shai pointed out. However, it appears some form of ritual was performed there.

Shai expressed his intention to expand the excavations at the site in the coming season, including examining the strata of the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age town. He is giving a lecture on the Tel Burma excavations at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Cypriot zoomorphic vessel. (Photo: Institute of Archaeology)
Cypriot zoomorphic vessel. (Photo: Institute of Archaeology)

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