Avraham Biran and his team have uncovered several shrines at Dan in addition to the large open-air bamah (high place) near the source of the Jordan River. Unlike that royal bamah, these shrines contain striking monoliths called massebot, or sacred pillars.

While clearing the fallen debris of the city wall between the outer and inner gates, which Tiglath-pileser III destroyed in 733/32 B.C.E. during his assault on Israel, Biran found a set of five standing stones (labeled number 3) bordering the wall. Votive vessels, seven-wick oil lamps, incense bowls and the bones of sacrificed animals found in the vicinity convinced Biran that the monoliths were indeed massebot.

About 125 feet east of Dan’s outer gate, Biran found another set of five standing stones (labeled number 4) abutting the foot of the city wall, and yet another set of massebot (labeled number 2) was discovered just in front of the city’s upper gate.

On the accumulated debris of the Assyrian destruction, about 60 feet from the city’s outer gate, Biran discovered three, perhaps four, monoliths identified as massebot (labeled number 1). Set in front of the largest stone was a basalt bowl resting on a flattened base and filled with ashes. Two miniature jugs and three oil lamps found nearby indicated that the monoliths marked a place of cultic worship.

That so many massebot shrines are associated with Dan’s gate complex suggests that these shrines were used by merchants or travelers, as well as by Dan’s permanent residents, as they entered or left the city. It is possible that these structures are similar to those destroyed by King Josiah of Judah in the seventh century B.C.E. as a consequence of his religious reforms (see 2 Kings 23:8).