Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tel Beer Sheva

The boy wanted to go to the desert. Seeing as we covered "Cultic Practices In The South" in our archeology lecture on Tuesday, I figured we may as well go visit Tel Beer Sheva. The Tel was awarded World Heritage Status by UNESCO (along with Megiddo and Hazor) in 2005. Off we set, at 6am this morning.
During excavation of the site this "horned altar" was uncovered. Interestingly, the altar stones were incorporated into one of the storehouse walls. It's believed that around 701 BCE, King Hezekiah of Judah abolished certain cultic practices as part of a religious reform (2 Kings 18:1-4). The altar, the original is in the Israel Museum, was probably destroyed during this period and its stones reused in the wall.

Most of archeology reflects the remains of Iron Age "stratum 2", more or less at the time of the first temple. Much of the site has been reconstructed and the walls rebuilt, with lines showing their original height. I prefer sites that are less rebuilt, where the archeology is left as is. There is a very nice tower in the middle of the site. It gives a great view of the whole site.

Of course, there is a water system. At the main gates the residents dug a 70M well to reach ground water. The shafts and reservoir of a large water system have been carefully uncovered and partially restored. It's impressive. The reservoir itself was cut out of the rock by hand. A huge amount of work.

As usual we arrived a little early (the site opens at 8am) and were sitting around when Chen drove up with the keys. She went inside the ticket office and let out a scream. She found a mouse in the cash register. So needless to say the boy and I were enlisted to trap the rodent. We weren't successful. We tried again before we left, seeing as we were still the only visitors. No luck. Maybe if we had caught it Chen would have let us in for free (It only cost 13NIS a person).

No comments: