John Laughlin

The Sacred Area or temenos at Dan, seen behind the low wall in the foreground, was the cult place of the Israelites beginning in the tenth century B.C. Avraham Biran, director of the Dan excavations, believes he has found here the beth bamah or high place which was built by Jeroboam, King of the northern Kingdom of Israel, to compete with the Jerusalem Temple, as described in 1 Kings 12.29. The earliest bamah at Dan was an open-air platform approximately 22 × 60 feet; only two courses of stones remain from this structure. Some of these stones show the effect of the fierce fire which destroyed the structure. In the ninth century B.C. a second bamah was built upon the remains of the first and the platform was expanded to 60 × 62 feet. This bamah was constructed of finely dressed masonry which can be seen in detail below. Nearby, in an adjacent courtyard, a horned incense altar was discovered which may date from the period of the second bamah.

The third Israelite rebuilding of the bamah occurred in the first half of the eighth century B.C. when a 27-foot-wide monumental stairway (seen in the center of the picture behind the low wall) was built against the southern face of the platform. See artists’ reconstruction of the third bamah.