Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Archaeological Discovery In Jordan Valley: Enormous 'Foot-shaped' Enclosures

Date:
April 6, 2009
Source:
University of Haifa
Summary:
"Foot-shaped" structures have been revealed in the Jordan valley and are among the earliest sites that archeologists believe were built by the ancient people of Israel. The structures are thought to be symbolic of the biblical concept of ownership.

In recent years, five enclosures were found in the Jordan Valley and excavated, all designed in the shape of a human foot. The sites are believed to date back to the outset of the Iron Age I (the 13th-12th centuries BCE).
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Haifa

"Foot-shaped" structures have been revealed in the Jordan valley and are among the earliest sites that archeologists believe were built by the ancient people of Israel. The structures are thought to be symbolic of the biblical concept of ownership.

"The 'foot' structures that we found in the Jordan valley are the first sites that the People of Israel built upon entering Canaan and they testify to the biblical concept of ownership of the land with the foot," said archaeologist Prof. Adam Zertal of the University of Haifa, who headed the excavating team that exposed five compounds in the shape of an enormous "foot" -- likely to have been used at that time to mark ownership of territory.

The finding is believed to represent the first time that enclosed sites identified with the biblical sites termed in Hebrew "gilgal", which were used for assemblies, preparation for battle, and rituals, have been revealed in the Jordan valley. The Hebrew word "gilgal" (a camp or stone-structure), is mentioned thirty-nine times in the Bible. The stone enclosures were located in the Jordan valley and the hill country west of it. To this day, no archaeological site has been proposed to be identified with the gilgal.

Between the years 1990 and 2008, during the Manasseh Hill-Country Survey that covers Samaria and the Jordan Valley, five such enclosures were found and excavated, all designed in the shape of a human foot. The site are believed to date back to the outset of the Iron Age I (the 13th-12th centuries BCE). Based on their size and shape, it is clear that they were used for human assembly and not for animals.

Two of the sites (in Bedhat esh-Sha'ab and Yafit 3) were excavated in the years 2002-2005, under the directorship of Dr. Ben-Yosef and the guidance of Adam Zertal. The findings, mostly of clay vessels and animal bones, date their foundation to the end of the 13th century BCE, and one of them endured up to the 9th or 8th century BCE without architectonic adjustment.

In at least two cases, paved circuits, some two meters wide, were found around the structures. These were probably used to encircle the sites in a ceremony. "Ceremonial encirclement of an area in procession is an important element in the ancient Near East," Prof. Zertal says, adding that the origins of the Hebrew term "hag" (festival) in Semitic languages is from the verb "hug", which means "encircle". Thus, this discovery can also shed new light on the religious processions and the meaning of the Hebrew word for festival, "hag".

Prof. Zertal emphasized that the "foot" held much significance as a symbol of ownership of territory, control over an enemy, connection between people and land, and presence of a deity. Some of these concepts are mentioned in ancient Egyptian literature. The Bible also has a wealth of references to the importance of the "foot" as a symbol of ownership, the link between people and their deity, defeating the enemy 'underfoot', and the temple imaged as a foot.

"The discovery of these 'foot' structures opens an entirely new system of linguistic and historical perceptions," Prof. Zertal emphasizes. He explains that the meaning of the biblical Hebrew word for "foot" -- "regel" -- is also a "festival" or "holiday". As such, the source of the Hebrew term "aliya la-regel", literally translated as "ascending to the foot" (and now known in English as a pilgrimage), is attributed to the "foot" sites in the Jordan valley. "Now, following these discoveries, the meanings of the terms become clear. Identifying the 'foot' enclosures as ancient Israeli ceremonial sites leads us to a series of new possibilities to explain the beginnings of Israel, of the People of Israel's festivals and holidays," he stated.

According to Prof. Zertal, the "foot" constructions were used for ceremonial assemblies during Iron Age I (and probably after). When the religious center was moved to Jerusalem and settled there, the command of "aliya la-regel" (pilgrimage) became associated with Jerusalem. The source of the term, however, is in the sites that have now been discovered in the Jordan valley and the Altar on Mt. Ebal. "The biblical text testifies to the antiquity of these compounds in Israel's ceremonials, and the 'foot' structures were built by an organized community that had a central leadership," Prof. Zertal stated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Haifa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Haifa. "Archaeological Discovery In Jordan Valley: Enormous 'Foot-shaped' Enclosures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406102600.htm>.
University of Haifa. (2009, April 6). Archaeological Discovery In Jordan Valley: Enormous 'Foot-shaped' Enclosures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406102600.htm
University of Haifa. "Archaeological Discovery In Jordan Valley: Enormous 'Foot-shaped' Enclosures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406102600.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

Underground Art Reveals WW1 Soldiers' Hopes and Fears

AFP (Sep. 25, 2014) American doctor and photographer Jeff Gusky reveals the underground quarries used by the soldiers of World War One, and the artwork they left behind which illustrates their hopes and fears. Duration: 02:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

Raw: Ice Age Wooly Mammoth Remains for Sale

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) A rare, well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth is going on sale at Summers Place Auctions hope the 11.5-foot tall, almost intact specimen will fetch between $245,000 to $409,000. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins