The walls of a massive Iron Age fortress (ninth-eighth centuries B.C.E.), stretching 300 feet on each side, mark the outline of the excavated area in the photo (above). The large gate complex of this (Stratum 5) fortress can be seen in the lower left (northeastern) portion of the photo, below the clump of trees. At the other three corners of the fortress, excavators have found towers. The western wall of the smaller Roman period fortress (Stratum 2, third-fourth centuries C.E.) can be seen to the right of the modern building at the center of the photo (see plan and detail, below).

Near the northwestern wall of the large fortress (lower right in the photo), excavators discovered a cult shrine (see drawing, below), which can be associated with a later, smaller Iron Age fortress (Stratum 4, seventh-sixth centuries B.C.E.). Beside the shrine, excavators found a pit containing smashed cultic objects. Curiously, every piece of every vessel has been found, suggesting that intact cultic objects were placed in the pit and then crushed with large ashlars.

The shrine, with its distinctive U-shape, resembles a contemporaneous shrine at Qitmit, which has been identified as Edomite. Cultic objects found in the ‘En Hatzeva pit are also similar to cultic objects from Qitmit, especially the anthropomorphic cult stands (see this issue’s cover). It is therefore likely that the ‘En Hatzeva shrine, too, is Edomite.