The hills and fields of Israel are dotted with stone piles created by farmers clearing their land. When the author explored this mound, only telltale pottery sherds scattered on the surface distinguished it from dozens of other stone-strewn mounds. But the sherds were enough to warrant archaeological investigation at the site.
Digging beneath this particular pile of stones revealed a nine-foot-high structure dating to the early Iron Age, 1220–1000 B.C., the time archaeologists assign to the settlement of the Israelites in Canaan. In Biblical terms, this was the period when the Israelites under Joshua entered the Promised Land. According to the Bible, Joshua built an altar on Mt. Ebal, where all Israel gathered and worshipped. Could the nine-foot-high structure be Joshua’s altar?