In the Field of the Philistines


In the Field of the Philistines: Cult Furnishings from the Favissa of Yavneh Temple


For the first time a complete Philistine favissa (underground treasury) was discovered, containing the largest number of sacred objects ever discovered in the country
In October-November 2002 a rescue excavation was conducted in Yavneh by the Antiquities Authority, after the site was damaged during gardening work.
The excavation was directed by Dr. Raz Kletter; a round favissa, abounding with special objects was discovered, arousing a great deal of interest among archeologists in Israel and abroad. A favissa is a place for storing sacred objects that are no longer used in rituals, but since they are somewhat sacred, they are not used for secular purposes. In our times sacred books are stored in crypts.
Some 120 ritual stands were discovered in the Yavneh favissa – the largest number of stands ever found. This number is greater than the number of all the stands ever found in Eretz Israeli in all excavations every conducted over the past 150 years. The stands, which are handmade, have an unusual shape – they are square or elliptic and look like houses. In most cases their roofs are open and “connect” the walls. The special roofs, shaped like saddles, were found in this location for the first time. Patterns of rope and buttons decorate the stand edges, and there are windows on the walls. The majority are decorated on their façade with engravings and etchings in the shapes of people and animals, including the image of a naked goddess, bulls, lions, trees and goats, sphinxes, and a milking cow in several combinations. An orchestra is seen on one of the stands.
Thousands of bowls were also buried in the favissa, on the majority signs of fire, which attest to the fact that they served for lighting incense or aromatic oils.
The exhibit shows tens of cult items from the Yavneh favissa. This is the first time that these unique tools will be exhibited before the general public. The findings are important on several counts – thet help in understanding the meaning and usage of the ritual stand, their use as ritualistic incense, and the history of art. They also encompass information on the Philistine religion as well as on the people who buried them.


Curator: Dr. Irit Ziffer
Opens October 15, 2006, closes February 15, 2007