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Archaeology in Israel: Tel Burna

Tel Burna is an archaeological exploration site located in Central Israel near Kiryat Gat that was primarilly inhabited during the Iron Age, around 1,000 B.C.E. Tel Burna served as a border town between the two kingdoms of Judah and Philistia, and is significant because some individuals believe that Tel Burna is the site of the biblical city of Libnah.  Libnah is supposedly one of the stops that the Israelites made during the Exodus from Egypt. 

A long term archaeological excavation project began at the Tel Burna site in Summer 2010 by professors and individuals associated with Bar-Ilan University.  Excavations are now run by the Tel Burna Excavation Project, and volunteers are accepted to assist in the project.  In order to volunteer to join the excavation project, please click here

On October 13, 2014, it was announced that archaeologists and researchers had begun excavating the remains of a 3,300 year old cult complex within area B of the Tel Burna site, the most exciting development in the excavation to date.  The complex measures 16x16 metres and is thought to be a series of chambers or rooms dedicated to the worship of a Canaanite God.  Inside of the rooms the explorers uncovered fragments of facemasks, connected cups, large jars that rival the size of a full grown human, goblets and chalices, burnt animal bones, and even a scarab with Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions.  Researchers suggested that these animal bones were used in some sort of sacrificial ritual, and deduced that the cups and massive jars found next to the bones were imported from Cyprus following chemical analysis. 

Archaeologists overseeing the Tel Burna exploration project confirmed in August 2017 that the site had been host to Canaanite and Pagan rituals beginning in the 13th century B.C.E.  After analyzing all of the objects found within the excavation area, Dr. Itzhaq Shai of Ariel University confidently stated that the concentration of cultic vessels clearly indicates that the activity within this courtyard was not daily life, but ritual practice. Based on the remains found in and around the Tel Burna site, researchers estimated that it had been destroyed in the 10th century B.C.E.  

Sources: LiveScience;
The Tel Burna Excavation Project;
Philippe Bohstrom.  3,200-year-old Pagan Ritual Hall Found in Israel, Archaeologists Confirm, Haaretz, (August 23, 2017).