A Hebrew University archeologist has discovered artifacts from a 3,000 year old community that have created a new understanding of how Solomon’s Temple was built, the university announced on Monday. Professor Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, revealed models of items excavated in Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in the Valley of Elah, about 30 km southwest of Jerusalem.
The religious community, which Garfinkel believes was Jewish based on the lack of pig bones and graven images, kept small shrines in rooms of three buildings. The small ritual objects are box-like in shape and made from basalt stone or clay. The shrines predate King Solomon’s Temple by at least 30 years, but utilize important architectural designs written in the Torah that describe how the Temple should be constructed.
The discovery of these small ritual objects has allowed archaeologists a new understanding of the Temple’s construction, explained Garfinkel. More than 20 architectural terms that describe the Temple no longer exist in modern language, so models of the Temple are based on educated guesses. For example, the Torah states that the Temple had “slaot,” which was previously understood as columns, and “sequfim,” which was widely translated as windows. But after studying the small shrines, Garfinkel concluded that the number of slaot corresponded to triglyphs, ornamental decorations above the columns, and the number of sequifim was consistent with a triple recessed doorway, rather than windows.
While the discovery might seem like unimportant semantics, Garfinkel stressed the objects’ discovery has dramatically changed the way bible scholars envision the Temple. “Our effort in biblical scholarship is to understand the text,” said Garfinkel “Now this model enables us to understand two terms out of twenty. We don’t know all of the terms, but it’s a step,” he said.
More at Haaretz, including dissenting views.