Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Tel Dan in its northern cultic context
by Davis, Andrew R., Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2010, 360; 3410203
Abstract (Summary)

The site of Tel Dan offers an exceptional opportunity to study the religious history of ancient Israel. Not only is Dan well-attested in the Hebrew Bible as a tribe and city, but the site itself in northern Israel has yielded a large temple complex (Area T) with numerous artifacts. Although the site has been excavated for over thirty years, the Dan temple has not received the scholarly attention it deserves. This dissertation attempts to correct that neglect by presenting detailed portraits of Area T during the Iron IIB period and comparing these portraits of Israelite religion to selected ritual texts from the Hebrew Bible. This integration of archaeological and textual evidence stems from the conviction that both disciplines are necessary for understanding ancient Israelite religion.

A comprehensive study of Area T would analyze all of its Iron Age strata, but the present dissertation is focused on Strata III-II, which date to the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.E., respectively. Analysis of these two strata indicates that Area T was the site not only of large religious gatherings that required the expertise of religious specialists but also of modest cultic occasions celebrated by small groups of worshipers. Another feature of Area T is its openness, which may be correlated to the decentralized religious authority of the Northern Kingdom. This accessibility changes from Stratum III to II, as new architectural barriers limit entry to certain parts of the sacred precinct.

The two chapters devoted to the analysis of textual evidence focus on biblical texts which correspond spatially and temporally to Strata III-II at Tel Dan. Thus Elijah's sacrifice on Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs 18:17-46) was chosen as representative of the ninth century B.C.E., and the book of Amos as representative of the eighth century B.C.E. Besides their temporal proximity, these texts can be considered northern texts, insofar as they originated in the Northern Kingdom or are specifically concerned with cultic practices that took place there. Special attention is paid to how the features of Area T at Tel Dan resonate with the religious life depicted in these biblical texts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lewis, Theodore J.
School: The Johns Hopkins University
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Biblical studies, Archaeology, Judaic studies
Keywords: Cult, Iron Age, Israel, Religion, Tel Dan
Publication Number: 3410203
ISBN: 978-1-124-00598-0
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