Ancient Jewish Altar Found in Shilo
The altar is believed to date back to the period from roughly 1,200 BCE to 600 CE known as the Iron Age.
More specifically, archaeologists dating it to what some Israeli researchers call the “Israelite era” – the period of time after the nation of Israel entered the land of Israel, and before the destruction of the First Temple.
The altar is 60 centimeters by 60 centimeters, with a height of 40 centimeters, and was found on the southern edge of the site of ancient Shilo.
It had been used in the construction of a Byzantine-era structure, however, markings on the stone indicated its use in religious ceremonies prior to its use as buildingmaterial.
Shilo was home to the Tabernacle brought with the Jews as they entered the land of Israel. It served as a site of religious pilgrimage until King Solomon’s construction of the First Temple in Jerusalem centuries later.
In the summer of 2013 archaeologists revealed that they had found the remains of the Biblical Israelites’ Tabernacle site.
The ancient village of Shilo lies next to modern-day Shilo, a thriving Jewish community established in the 1970s. The community recently opened a newmultimedia tourism center aimed at introducing visitors to the area's unique history.
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Quote: "There it was in plain view. No excavation necessary. Nearly square, the altar is approximately 8 feet on each side.(2) Because it sits on a slope, the height of the structure varies. In the northeast, it is about 5 feet high. It was hewn from soft Cenomanian limestone, which surely made the rock-cutters’ work easier, but led to later erosion. The altar’s orientation is surprising. Its corners, not sides, point to the cardinal points of the compass—north, south, east and west....The size of the altar generally matches the altar of the desert Tabernacle described in Exodus 27:1–2: “You shall make the altar ... five cubits long and five cubits wide—the altar is to be square—and three cubits high. Make its horns on the four corners, the horns to be of one piece with it.” A cubit is 18 to 20 inches long (measures were not uniform in the ancient Near East). The altar is located about one mile from Shiloh, the administrative and religious center of the Israelite tribes during the period of the Judges (the last centuries of the second millennium B.C.E.). The ark rested here for several decades until it was captured by the Philistines.(a)" .... We found no settlement whatever in the immediate vicinity of the altar. Yet within a radius of 2 miles from the altar are some 20 ancient sites, including Shiloh. We would love to be able to date the altar confidently, but this is difficult to do. We found neither organic material nor relevant pottery sherds near the altar (except some Roman ware washed down from the upper part of the hill), which would be the typical way to date it. The surface here lacks architecture, masonry or any other archaeological artifact that would indicate a date." End of Quote