Israel Museum

The horned altar from Beer-sheba. Corresponding to the Biblical description of such altars, the horns are one piece. However, contrary to Biblical requirements, the Beer-sheba altar is made of hewn stones, not “unhewn stones, upon which no man has lifted an iron tool” (Joshua 8:30–31). Yohanan Aharoni suggested that the Biblical proscription may have applied to iron tools, but not bronze ones.

The altar was found dismantled and in secondary use in later walls. Aharoni dated the altar to the 8th century B.C., the Iron Age II city of the Divided Monarchy. Note the snake carved into the lower right corner of the altar.