Gerrit Van Der Kooij

Deir Alla in the eighth-century B.C. was a large city, perhaps even a center of religious instruction. On the walls of a room in one building that may have stood near a temple, a professional scribe copied the text of an important religious manuscript. First he drew four red frames. Then he filled the frames with text, adding a drawing here and there for adornment. See artist’s reconstruction of how this inscribed wall may have looked.

Sometime in the eighth century B.C. Deir Alla was leveled by an earthquake, perhaps the very earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos, and also spoken of by Zechariah as “the earthquake that stopped up the valley in the days of King Uzziah of Judah.” In the Deir Alla disaster, the inscribed wall fell, crumbling into a myriad of fragments that scattered over an area of more than 20 square feet. The author observes that most of one section of the wall seems to have fallen in a pit, while another section fell at the corner of the original wall (see plan).