In order to test the hypothesis that pits had been used for grain storage, the authors conducted experiments at Tell Halif (Lahav), about 12 miles north of Beer-Sheva. There they dug a series of test pits, similar in every respect, except size, to those made by the Israelites. As in the drawings, test pits included the bell-shape style and the two varieties of the cylindrical style; some were lined with ash or rocks and others were left unlined.
An empty cylindrical pit, with stones and measuring about feet wide by 3 feet deep, appears above left. The pits were then filled with grain to about ¾ capacity (above right), sealed with clay and covered with rocks. An inserted thermometer monitored the temperature of the grain, a means of detecting decay caused by bacterial action.
The authors found that, although insects and larger animals do occasionally cause some damage to the grain, the pits generally provide an excellent method for storing grain—a method most likely employed by the Israelites.