Baal possibly worshipped at Burna, archaeologist says
Excavations at Tel Burna, located in the Shephelah region in Israel, have uncovered a 3,300-year-old cult complex where Baal, the Canaanite storm god, may have been worshipped. While the complex has not been fully excavated yet, its 52 by 52-feet courtyard has given archaeologists an idea of the overall size of the place. The excavators found within the complex three connected cups, facemask fragments, massive storage jars and burnt animal bones.
“From the finds within the building, we can reconstruct the occurrence of feasts, indicated by several goblets and a large amount of animal bones,” excavation director Itzick Shai of Ariel University told LiveScience. “Some of these animal bones are burnt, probably indicating their use in some sacrificial activity.”
Shai believes worship of Baal at this cult complex is a good possibility, but he hasn’t ruled out other candidates, such as the ancient war goddess Anat. The identification awaits further research.
Some scholars believe Tel Burna can be identified as Biblical Libnah, a Canaanite town that Joshua conquered and allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 10:29–33, 15:42). Located in the Judean Shephelah, the region served as a border between the kingdoms of Judah and Philistia in the Iron Age. Surveys and excavations conducted at the site of Tel Burna since 2009 have exposed settlements in the 13th, ninth, eighth and seventh centuries B.C.E. as well as in the Persian period.
Joe Uziel and Itzick Shai, “Archaeological Views: How Archaeologists Decide Where to Dig: The Case of Tel Burna,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2010.
William G. Dever, “How to Tell a Canaanite from an Israelite,” in Hershel Shanks et al., The Rise of Ancient Israel (Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991), pp. 27–60.
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