An altar with a tale to tell

(Image credit: Photo courtesy Adam Bean)

A stone altar in Ataroth, Jordan, was engraved with attractive clues about a rebellion that took place more than 2,800 years ago.

The rebellion is set out in the Hebrew Bible, which describes a rebellion of the kingdom of Moab against the kingdom of Israel. According to the Bible tale, Moab had to pay the Israeli tribute in the form of lamb and wool. Later, Mesha, the king of Moab, was disappointed with this arrangement and raised an army against greater power. In 1868, a stele or writing stone in Dhiban, Jordan notes that Mesha had successfully conquered the city of Ataroth controlled by Israel.

The altar excavated in 2010 was first analyzed and its content was published this year in the Levant magazine. His writing – partly written in the Moab script – confirms that Mesha and his army conquered Ataroth, referring to bronze plundering from the defeated city. Another part of the inscription tells about 4,000 foreign men “a lot of scattered and abandoned” and talks about a “desolate” city.

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