The Archaeology of Ritual and Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, and the Origins of Judaism

Aaron A. Burke

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 The Archaeology of Ritual and Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, and the Origins of Judaism

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This article addresses the development of Amorite and Canaanite religion through the end of Israelite religion, namely, the destruction of the First Temple in 586 bc. If any trends present themselves as characteristic of Israelite ritual and religion during the Iron Age, these are most evident by contrasting Israelite cult with that of the Amorites and Canaanites. Such an approach reveals that, at the level of state cult, limited change is evident in the archaeological record, with increased centralization as perhaps the most evident change during the Iron Age. This occurred principally with nearly exclusive construction of monumental temples within capital cities such as Jerusalem during the Iron Age. Nevertheless, shrines and smaller temples, which may reflect attempts to retain local access to the central cult, continued to be built in keeping with the visibility of state cult that was characteristic during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Increased efforts to centralize cult may have contributed to the proliferation of artifacts associated with personal piety, such as cult stands, female goddess figurines, and ceramic cult vessels that are not described as part of orthodox Israelite religion in the Hebrew Bible.

Keywords: Israelite religion; Amorites; Canaanites; Iron Age; cults; Bronze Age

Article.  5697 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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