Sacrificial altar

Unknown8th century BCE

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

This monumental, four-horned altar, probably from a Judahite sanctuary, was used for burnt animal sacrifices. It was built from smoothly carved blocks of stone, seemingly contrary to the biblical command that altars be made of undressed fieldstones (Exodus 20:25). From biblical stories we learn that fugitives seeking shelter would grasp the horns of altars for protection. This altar was dismantled, probably in the days of King Hezekiah as part of his religious reform. Note the snake – a fertility symbol – incised on one of the blocks.

Credit: Reconstruction made possible by the generosity of David Cahn, Basel, in memory of his father, Herbert A. Cahn

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  • Title: Sacrificial altar
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 8th century BCE
  • Location: Tel Beersheba
  • Type: Altar
  • Rights: Israel Antiquities Authority, Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / by Ardon Bar Hama
  • External Link: Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Medium: Stone
  • Dimensions: H: 160 cm, W: 160 cm
  • Curator: Mevorah, David