Nachshon Sneh/Israel Antiquities Authority

Shattered cult vessels squeeze out from under the ashlars, or hewn stones, that crushed them in the pit adjacent to ‘En Hatzeva’s Edomite shrine. Since all fragments from each object have been recovered, the vessels were evidently intact when placed in the pit; they were then deliberately crushed with the large stones, probably taken from the shrine.

Why this sudden, violent destruction? In the late seventh century B.C.E., King Josiah instituted a religious reform aimed at purging Judah of pagan worship. According to the Bible, Josiah destroyed the idols of the Sidonians, Ammonites and Moabites (2 Kings 23:13–14). Did he also level this Edomite shrine and smash its cultic objects?