Temple from Hezekiah’s Time Found at Lachish (Photos and Video)

Archaeologists announced the discovery at Tel Lachish of an ancient Judahite shrine dating to around the time of King Hezekiah. The shrine had been desecrated, which may relate to biblical accounts of Hezekiah’s religious purge against idols and “high places.” These finds include a toilet, which relates to another Bible account. More on that in a moment.

14492612_640014546171345_4174342125392942586_n

Toilet seat from the 701 BC destruction of Lachish by the Assyrian king Sennacherib. It was set up in a desecrated temple shrine in the Lachish gate. (Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Excavators discovered the temple shrine in the inner gate of Lachish III, the city level destroyed by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 BC during the reign of Hezekiah. The Israel Antiquities Authority’s press release has a good description and is worth reading in full. Here are a few highlights:

  • This gate is the largest one known in the country from the First Temple period.
  • The first chamber had benches with armrests, numerous storage jars, grain scoops, and stamped LMLK jar handles. [Note: Jars stamped with LMLK (“belonging to the king”) held grain taxes. The grain scoops probably relate to food rationing during Sennacherib’s siege. – L]
  • The third chamber had a stepped entrance leading into the temple shrine. A walled off “Holy of Holies toward the back contained two four-horned altars.
  • The altars’ horns had been cut off, apparently to desecrate them. This may be evidence of Hezekiah’s religious reforms to centralize worship at Jerusalem’s temple. “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles.” (2 Kings 18:4)
  • A toilet had been installed in the “Holy of Holies” to desecrate the shrine. This recalls Jehu’s destruction of the Baal temple in Samaria, when the site was turned into a latrine. (2 Kings 10:27) Tests indicate the Lachish toilet was never used, which would make its installation symbolic. [Note: I understand the toilet may have been fashioned from one of the altars, but there is no mention of this in the press announcement. – L]

The JewishPress.com has a release with additional photos.

This excavation was conducted by the IAA in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority to develop Tel Lachish for tourism. It is not associated with Hebrew University’s Lachish Expedition that I work with, though some individuals work with both of these digs. The gate excavation site is currently covered for conservation purposes but will eventually be open to the public.

lachish-gate-shrine

Lachish gate shrine, viewed from above. It is currently covered for conservation purposes. This is the chamber with the small temple. The narrowed, stepped entrance is visible on the far side. The rectangular box mid-chamber is the dividing wall for the “Holy of Holies” which contained the altars and toilet seat. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

lachish-gate-chamber

Interior of the first gate chamber, showing part of a covered bench and white plaster still covering parts of the mud brick wall. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

14500337_640014479504685_7992252318745660319_o

Desecrated four-horned altar found in the Lachish II gate. The horns were cut off in antiquity, possibly during King Hezekiah’s purge of religious shrines outside of Jerusalem. (Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)

14391028_640014616171338_4726905916673638145_n

Arrowheads found in the excavation, attesting to the intense battle between Assyrian and Judahite soldiers in the gate area. (Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

14449748_640014626171337_3701626293606284909_n

Finds from the IAA Lachish gate excavation, including oil lamps, jar handles, and arrowheads. (Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

the-toilet-archaeologists-believe-was-placed-there-symbolically-jpeg

Toilet seat being excavated from the gate shrine at Tel Lachish. (Credit: Igor Kreimerman)

Here is a short YouTube video with archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor that shows some of the finds.

More photos and information when I have it!

Advertisements

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in archaeologists, Bible comments, Biblical Archaeology, Israel, Lachish, New Discoveries, Short videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Temple from Hezekiah’s Time Found at Lachish (Photos and Video)

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    What an amazing find!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s