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Archaeologists shed new light on the Biblical site linked to the Ark of the Covenant

The excavation (The Kiriath-Jearim Shmunis Family Excavation)

Excavations in Israel sheds new light on the history of a Biblical site linked to the Ark of the Covenant.

Specifically, archaeologists focus their attention on the old site of Kirjath-Jearim, which is mentioned in the Bible as one of the places where the Ark of the Covenant stood.

According to Haaretz, experts are convinced that the site of Kirjath-Jearim is located on a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a village near Jerusalem. Excavations in 2017 offered a fascinating glimpse into the history of the hill, where the church of Our lady of the Ark of the Covenant, now.

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The graves in Kirjath-Jearim, is a joint project of the Tel Aviv University and the College de France, supported by the Shmunis family in San Francisco. Tel Aviv University Professor Israel Finkelstein, who leads the project with Thomas Romer and Christophe nicolle of the College de France, told Haaretz that the hill is clear by the man-made. Four huge carefullybuilt retaining walls were found at the site, creating a kind of earth-filled platform.

The hill, on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh. (Kirjath-Jearim Shmunis Family Excavations)

The site was dated using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence, which analyzes the last time quartz particles in the soil were exposed to sunlight. This has resulted in a broad date range between 1150 B. C., and 770 B. C, although pottery sherds found at the site show that it is a hive of activity in the first half of the 8th century, B. C.

Against this background, the archaeologists believe that Kirjath-Jearim was used by the ancient kingdom of Israel to control the neighboring kingdom of Judah. This conclusion is at odds with the Biblical story in 1 Samuel, which says that the hill was used by the kingdom of Judah to the control of the kingdom of Israel.

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Finkelstein told Haaretz that the kingdom of Judah at that time was too weak to build such a structure, the conclusion that the mound was probably built by the stronger kingdom of Israel. Kirjath-Jearim, he says, must be viewed within the context of history.

Archaeologists returned to the site for a second season of the excavations in August 2019. (Kirjath-Jearim Shmunis Family Excavations)

“Instead of looking to the Ark, we are interested in understanding the story of the Ark in the Book of Samuel: who wrote it, when, and why,” he said to Fox News, via e-mail.

Haaretz reports that when the Bible was written from the 7th century, B. C. in Jerusalem, it was during the reign of the kings of Judah, hence the Biblical reference to Kirjath-Jearim, that glorifies the kingdom of Judah. Jerusalem at that time was the capital of Judah, while the kingdom of Israel’s capital is the city of Samaria, further to the north.

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However, Finkelstein is of the opinion that the original version of the story of Kirjath-Jearim, was written at the beginning of the 8th century, B. C. by an Israeli author, and that it was connected with a period in which the kingdom of Israel, dominated the kingdom of Judah.

In addition to a place of worship, the mountain where the Ark of the Covenant was located also functioned as an important administrative centre between the two kingdoms, he told Haaretz. In this way, the site is important as it symbolizes the unification between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

The leading Israeli archaeologist, is known for the creation of an “evidence-based” approach of the research acknowledges the complexity of the Biblical texts. “The reading of the Bible, it is important to distinguish between the historical facts of the ideological/theological views of the authors,” he told Fox News in 2017.

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Finkelstein and his fellow-archaeologists back to Kirjath-Jearim, for their second season of excavations in August 2019.

The Ark of the Covenant is still a source of fascination. The Ark was finally brought from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem by King David, but disappeared when the city was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B. C, in which several theories about his fate. While some people believe that the Ark is gold was melted down, there are also claims that it was taken to the cave on Mount Nebo in Jordan, or to Ethiopia.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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