Was "Israelite" Sacrifice Practiced at Tel Dan?

Positing any cult other than an Israelite cult at Dan seems less likely when the evidence provided above is considered in light of other factors suggestive of Yahwistic worship.

See Also: Dinner at Dan (Brill, 2013)

By Jonathan S. Greer
Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, MI
January 2014

To read this article in its entirety, we have presented it here in PDF format.

Comments (3)

Or, conversely, memory of cult activity at Dan may have provided the pretext for the, perhaps legendary, Jeroboam story in the later Deuteronomist history.

#1 - Edward Mills - 01/29/2014 - 13:20

What indications would you look for if a 'non-Israelite' form of worship were to be identified?

#2 - Martin - 01/30/2014 - 17:21

Thank you both for your comments.

Edward, there is no doubt that the evidence can be taken in other ways and your suggestion is entirely possible. Much depends on the degree of historicity one grants to the biblical materials and then how one integrates the data sets of text and archaeology. I see at least three major editions of the DH (see my recent book for a defense of this) with the first edition under Hezekiah, thus only a century or so from Jeroboam I.

Martin, great question and one that is difficult to answer as there are certainly more similarities than there are differences between Israelite and "non-Israelite" expressions of worship. Even some of the more supposedly "obvious" differences are not so easy to evaluate. Take pig remains, for instance. Though there are no pig remains among the sacrificial feasting deposits in the sacred precinct at Dan, the same absence of pig remains was observed in the "sacrificial pit" of the gate complex at nearby Aramaean et-Tell/Bethsaida dating to the same time period. That said, there were pig remains found in the palace there whereas at Dan there is almost a complete absence of pig in all of the Iron II levels that have been analyzed so far. One of the more distinctive Israelite markers, as I argued in the paper and more so in the book, would be the altar kit and especially the blood bowl. I am not aware of any comparable archaeological material from other sites.

#3 - Jonathan Greer - 02/05/2014 - 14:34

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