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The Temple at Ein Gedi

Holy Land Unearthed

The Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi is one of three chalcolithic temples that have come to light. In fact, two of them are in Israel while the third is located in modern Jordan. The impressive sanctuary complex is located above the springs that form the oasis of Ein Gedi. Towering high above the Dead Sea.


The Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi
The Temple With the Dead Sea at the Background

More About Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi

The Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi was surrounded by a wall and comprised an elaborate entrance chamber; additional rooms. In Addition, there was a courtyard with a basin for holy water or a place for a sacred tree. Lastly, there was a building containing a pedestal. Most probably for the god’s statue. Furthermore, the temple estimated period is 3,800 BCE – 4,500 BCE. Furthermore, the site was discovered as early as 1956 by archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni.


The Chalcolithic Temple at Ein Gedi
(Credit: Stéphanie Gromann – CC.BY-SA 3.0)

But the Systematic exploration of the temple started in 1962. during the excavations, no domestic ware nor remains of dwellings were found at the site. So that convinced the archaeologists to believe that this was a regional sanctuary or a pilgrimage site for worshippers who lived far away. In addition, no villages dated to the Chalcolithic period were found near the temple. Also, its character and plan resemble the Chalcolithic sanctuary found in stratum XIX at Megiddo, confirming its identification as a temple.

Interesting Archaeological Finds

So within the temple animal bones were found. In addition potsherds, a clay statuette of a bull laden with a pair of churns and lots of ashes. In fact, some of the items today are on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. These items found in the temple mean the niche served as a shrine. A round piece of white crystalline limestone, discovered at the back of the altar, may have served as the base for a statue of a deity.


The Round Shrine Found at The Temple
(Credit: Stéphanie Gromann – CC.BY-SA 3.0)

On that note, it’s worth mentioning the hoard of unique Chalcolithic artifacts that were found in a grotto near the Wadi of Nahal Mishmar. The Site is also known as the “Cave of the Treasure”. So 12 km away an astonishing hoard of 429 ritual objects was discovered. The objects were found carefully wrapped in a woven mat concealed behind a large stone. Among the items that were found are: dozens of scepters; and enigmatic crown-shaped objects. Some archaeologists relate these items to the Temple at Ein Gedi.


The Sceptre found at the Cave of the Treasure among hundreds of artifacts unearthed there
(Credit: Oren Rosen – CC.BY-SA 3.0)

The Archaeologists also found benches made of stone. They were stood adjacent to long walls; while along the short walls the excavators found pits sunk into the floors. These were determined to contain the remains of burnt bones; horns; pottery, and a vast quantity of ash. A piece of painted plaster indicates the walls were perhaps even painted and decorated. Similar to those from the Ghassulian type site at Teleilat al-Ghassul in Jordan.

Directions How to Get to the Chalcalothic Temple at Ein Gedi

So you read this post and now you want to check out the temple with your own eyes! What is the fastest way to get to Ein Gedi Nature Reserve? I would suggest taking Highway 90 till you reach Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Once you got there you should take the main trail till you get to David waterfall, then just follow the signs. Yes, it’s that simple!


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arik-about

Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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