An old 3,200-year-old Canaanite temple discovered in Israel was found with statues of the god Baal and jewelry inspired by the Egyptian goddess Hathor.
The temple, from the 12th century BC, was once part of the powerful Canaanite city of Lachish – now the area houses the Tel Lachish National Park.
Archaeologists from the Hewbrew University of Jerusalem and Southern Adventist University in Tennessee say this is a “unique opportunity” to study the Canaanite.
The late Bronze Age temple had two pillars and two towers that lead to a large rectangular hall – unusual for the period, according to Professor Yosef Garfinkel.
They found a large number of other objects in the temple, including two bronze statues that were claimed to be “beating gods” – housed near the altar.
The team of archaeologists found a temple with two large pillars that led to a larger entrance area in the city of Lachish
The team found a mix of pottery, storage boxes and statues in the ruins of the old 3,200-year-old temple and is now investigating them in more detail
WHO WAS BAAL?
Baal was widely worshiped by a number of Bronze Age communities, particularly in the Middle East.
A depiction of the priests of Baal on the altar with the prophet Elijah
He was prominent among the Canaanites and may have emerged as a figure for worship in their cities.
Baal was seen as a fertility god, in fact known as the Lord of the earth and the God of rain and dew.
This was especially important for the Canaanites, because rain and dew were vital for fertile soil.
Adoration of Baal became popular in Egypt from around 1400 BC.
The layout was common in the earlier Bronze Age and resembled Bible descriptions of the first temple in Jerusalem that was said to have been built by King Solomon.
It was a rare discovery for the researchers – who say a find in this sense and of this scale only happens every few decades.
“Only once every 30 or 40 years do we get the chance to dig out a Canaanite temple in Israel,” Garfinkel told Times of Israel.
The site of Lachish, where the temple is located, was first found by William Foxwell Albright in 1929. He is considered the founder of biblical archeology.
The Garfinkel team started excavating the site almost seven years ago in 2013 and then investigated the findings for longer.
“We discovered the temple and dedicated it for three or four years because it is very rare to find Canaanite locations in Israel,” Garfinkel told the Jerusalem Post.
‘This type of structure was only discovered in Megiddo, Nablus and Hazor. But this is the first time that we have revealed such a large monumental symmetrical type of temple. ”
Among the discoveries were jewelry with Egyptian hieroglyphs depicting rulers and gods from the land of the Nile
They found some objects with Egyptian pharaohs covered with gold leaf, as well as bronze kettles and daggers
Two small statues with ‘stabbing gods’ were found at the altar of the temple. These figures were from the god Baal or from Resheph
‘What we found sheds new light on old life in the region. The importance of these findings can hardly be overestimated. “
The temple had small rooms along the sides that would have been used for storage, in fact they found boxes with wheat in it.
As they progressed into the remains, they found an “inner sanctuary” with columns and nearly 30 meters high stones in a circle of smaller stones.
In the temple the team found an amulet inspired by the Egyptian goddess Hathor, who was worshiped by miners and said to welcome the dead in the afterlife.
They were not only Egyptian gods represented in the temple, they also found statues of Baal – a god who was not worshiped in the land and was of pure Canaanite descent.
It was one of two statues of stabbing gods and the type of statuettes can be found in the area in temples from the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
They are usually from Baal or Resheph, both known as war gods, “although it is impossible to identify our statuettes because of a lack of clear attributes.”
Weapons and jewelry were among the items discovered in the Canaanite temple in the 12th century BC in Lachish
Four pieces of a gilt bronze situla with an engraved hieroglyphic inscription were found in the remains of the temple
They also found bronze kettles, daggers and ax heads adorned with common images in Egypt, including bird images, scarabs, and a bottle named Ramses II – a powerful Egyptian pharaoh.
During the period that the template was created, the people of Lachish controlled large parts of the lowlands of Juse and the city was one of the most important in the area.
Canaanites and ancient Egyptians had a mutual influence on each other, according to Garfinkel, at some point until about 1549 BC. The Canaanites actually ruled over Egypt – but that changed with the rise of King Tutankhamun and Nefertiti.
A significant amount of pottery was discovered in the Canaanite temple, including urns, bowls, and other containers
When the famous rulers came to power, ancient Egypt also reached the height of its success and violently wiped over what is now Israel.
The city of Lachish, where the temple was found, had a very bloody history – first created as a powerful Canaanite stronghold around 1800 BC.
It took a few hundred years for it to arrive in 1550 BC. Was destroyed by the Egyptians as they traveled through the area during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmosis III.
WHAT WAS THE CITY OF LACHISH AND WHAT HAPPENED FROM IT?
The city of Lachish was the second most important stronghold for the Canaanites in the southern kingdom of Judah during the late Bronze Age.
It is located southwest of Jerusalem and is now represented by a national park called Tel Lachish – with a distinctive mound of the earth.
What the ancient city of Lachish was now represented by a mound of earth in the national park – Tel Lachish
The city was heavily fortified during the Middle Bronze Age by a rolling bank and a fosse – it played an important role in the history of the region.
During the late Bronze Age, it was a large Canaanite city state.
Lachish had an intense and very bloody history, just like most villages and towns in the region.
It first began to rise as a large Canaanite city around 1800 BC and lasted about 400 years before it was destroyed – for the first time – in 1550 BC.
This was in the hands of the Egyptians under Pharaoh Thutmosis III when they crossed the area during the expansion of the 18th Dynasty.
The Canaanites rebuilt the city, but it was destroyed again in 1300 BC – they rebuilt it a second time.
About 60 years later, the city was again destroyed – around 1150 BC.
The Lachish site was first found by William Foxwell Albright in 1929. He is considered the founder of biblical archeology.