36 / Yavneh II

The "Temple Hill" Repository Pit

Raz Kletter / Irit Ziffer / Wolfgang Zwickel

2015 XIV-290 pages Text + 72 pages Plates and pictures, bound

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Yavneh II is the second and last excavation report on the dramatic favissa/genizah pit full of Philistine votive objects, discovered by Raz Kletter in the city of Yavneh, Israel, near the Mediterranean coast (south of Tel Aviv). The first volume, Yavneh I (OBO.SA 30, 2010) included studies on the history and archaeological exploration of Yavneh, the excavation, the stratigraphy and the interpretation of the pit as a favissae of votive objects that originate from a public temple; but especially on the mysterious cult stands, which number more than a hundred and include many stands with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures. In the present volume we publish many additional cultic finds, including fire pans or shovels that could be used for moving hot coals and for burning incense (comparable to the biblical maḥtāh); a rectangular shrine-model (naos) with detached pillars; zoomorphic vessels; a larger sample of pottery with statistical analysis; imported Cypriot pottery; dog bones (probably related to ritual); an inscription on a bowl; fragments of worked stones (perhaps from altars); and chemical residues from juglets and chalices, which seem to indicate presence of hallucinatory and incense materials. In addition, we offer an update on the iconography of the Yavneh cult stands and a study of the larger world of cult stands in the southern Levant; criteria for identifying favissae and their appearance from the Late Bronze Age to the Persian Period in Palestine; and a concluding discussion on Yavneh, incense, and Philistine ethnicity. 


Main authors

Raz Kletter (*1960) completed his PhD in 1995 at Tel Aviv University on material culture and borders of Iron Age Judah. Following a post-doctoral year at Oxford, UK, he worked in the Israel Antiquities Authority as Deputy of Finds Department, Senior Archaeologist; and in 2002-2007 as Head of the Scientific Processing Unit. Dr. Kletter directed and published excavations from varied periods and sites in Israel and is currently Docent for Near-Eastern Archaeology, University of Helsinki. His main fields of study are Near Eastern Archaeology (Bronze and Iron Ages); religion and cult; ancient economy; archaeological theory; and history of archaeology in Israel/Palestine.


Irit Ziffer is curator of the Ceramics and Metal pavilions at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. She trained in archaeology and ancient Near Eastern cultures at Tel Aviv University and received her PhD in ancient Near Eastern art. In 1976-79, 1981-82 she was member of the Aphek-Antipatris excavations team. In 1993-95, 2000-5 she taught at the Department of Archaeology, Tel-Aviv University. Dr. Ziffer curated many exhibitions, including: “At that Time the Canaanites Were in the Land” (1990); “Islamic metalwork” (1996); “O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock: the dove allegory in antiquity” (1998); “The corn spirit” (2002); “In the field of the Philistines: cult furnishings from the favissa of a Yavneh temple” (2006-7); and “The Last Supper at Apollonia: The Final Days of the Crusader Castle in Herzliya” (2011). During 2007-8 she was Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Art History at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and in 2012-13 a guest scholar with Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


Wolfgang Zwickel studied Protestant Theology, Prehistory, Egyptology and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology in Munich, Tübingen, Heidelberg and Kiel. He completed his PhD in 1989 at Kiel on incense cult and incense vessels in archaeological and biblical sources, and his habilitation in 1993 on temple cult in Canaan and Israel from the Middle Bronze Age to the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. Since 1998 he is Professor for Old Testament Studies and Biblical Archaeology at the Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz.