Kuntillet Ajrud

Kuntillet Ajrud (Arabic: كونتيلة عجرود) is a late 9th/early 8th centuries BCE site in the northeast part of the Sinai Peninsula.[1] It is frequently described as a shrine, though this is not certain.[2]

Kuntillet Ajrud
كونتيلة عجرود‎
Image on pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription "Yahweh and his Asherah”"
Shown within Sinai
Coordinates30°11′35″N 34°25′16″E
PeriodsIron Age
Site notes
Excavation dates1975–76
ArchaeologistsZe’ev Meshel


The site was excavated in 1975/76 by Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze’ev Meshel. The fortress-like main building is divided into two rooms, one large and the other small, both with low benches. Both rooms contained various paintings and inscriptions on the walls and on two large water-jars (pithoi), one found in each room. The paintings on the pithoi show various animals, stylised trees, and human figures, some of which may represent gods. They appear to have been done over a fairly considerable period and by several different artists, and do not form coherent scenes. The iconography is entirely Syrian/Phoenician and lacks any connection to the Egyptian models commonly found in Iron Age IIB Israel art.[3]

The inscriptions are mostly in early Hebrew with some in Phoenician script.[4] Many are religious in nature, invoking Yahweh, El and Baal, and two include the phrases "Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah" and "Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah."[5] There is general agreement that Yahweh is being invoked in connection with Samaria (capital of the kingdom of Israel) and Teman (in Edom); this suggests that Yahweh had a temple in Samaria, and raises a question over the relationship between Yahweh and Kaus, the national god of Edom.[6] The "Asherah" is most likely a cultic object, although the relationship of this object (a stylised tree perhaps) to Yahweh and to the goddess Asherah, consort of El, is unclear.[7]

An image on the piece of pottery (belonging to a pithos vase) found at Kuntillet Ajrud is adjacent to a Hebrew inscription "Berakhti etkhem l’YHVH Shomron ul’Asherato" ("I have blessed you by Yahweh of Samaria and [his] Asherah"). Scholars disputed about the meaning and the significance of this. The two figures portrayed are generally identifiable as representing the Egyptian god Bes. Also, it is believed that part of this image was drawn after the inscription was written, namely the figure labeled as S (the leftmost humanoid figure depicted).[8]

The excavation report by Ze'ev Meshel was published in 2012.

See also

Further reading


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