Is the site damaged by Palestinian road works Altar Joshua?

In 1980, Haifa University archaeologist Adam Zertal was conducting a major archaeological study in the Nablus city of Biblical Shechem, on the West Bank, when a pile of stones captured the attention. He went on to find a rectangular structure about 9m. x 7m. fada. Because of his character and position, Zertal was ready for his call five years later that he found the altar that Joshua built after the children of Israel entered the Promised Land.
Four decades later, the site’s identification among scholars remains controversial, with many scholars dismissing Zertal’s claims.
However, a few days after a report of damage in the area caused by construction work carried out on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Shay Bar from the University of Haifa, who took over the work on publishing the site’s findings following Zertal’s death in 2015, confirmed that his dissertation is supported by a number of factors, even though much more work is needed before can give a definite answer.
Mt. Ebal is mentioned in the Bible, in the books of Deuteronomy (27: 4-8) and Joshua (8: 30-35). The site is currently located in District B of the West Bank under Palestinian authority.
“At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of Yahweh had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Doctrine of Moses. iron was cast. They offered burnt offerings to the Lord, and they offered sacrifices of goodness, ”they read a passage from the Book of Joshua.
For those who believe that the Bible referred to historical events, what is described in the Book of Joshua occurred during the Iron Age I (1200–1000 BCE).
Zertal established his understanding of the position of the altar, as well as its structure, which he said resembled the appearance of the altar that stood in the Second Temple of Jerusalem a thousand years later.

The archaeologist was harshly criticized by colleagues for speculating.
“Archaeological studies are based on two elements, data and interpretation,” Bar explained Post Jerusalem. “However, to explain detection, it is important to rely on complete data. The results of excavations at the site have never been published. As a result, many people who have offered their views over the years have done so without looking at the whole picture. “
The archaeologist said that most scholars agree that the site dates back to the Iron Age. In addition, it is considered by many to have been a cultural site – even though some argue that it was not an altar but perhaps a tower to protect the surrounding fields. .
The remains of a well-built structure have two courts. A ramp located between the gardens reaches the top of the structure.
“We could see the same arrangement in the altar later in Jerusalem,” Bar said, adding that the structure is surrounded by about 30 centers, filled with pegs and animal remains. could be brought there as an offer to the priests.
“I’m not ready to answer whether Joshua built this site, because I think it would be unethical to do so based on partial data only,” said Bar. I would say… in the current research situation, if I look at the architecture and pottery, and the other conclusions it seems to me that we are in fact talking about a cultural site from the relevant time … Mount Ebal has been surveyed meter by meter for the past 45 years by the Menashe Hill Rural Survey team under Professor Zertal and later myself.In addition to this structure, the mountain is not This area was uninhabited, there are no water sources, it was difficult to cultivate the area, but in the Iron Age someone may have built, perhaps Joshua, perhaps someone else. beautiful site with great views to the north and east. ”
“The Bible talks about an altar built there, and it is the only source available, so it seems that this is the altar of Joshua, although we cannot be certain. “We need to do more work to prove it,” Bar said. “Only then can I provide a better response.”
Regarding the damage, Bar said that nothing had been destroyed yet as it only covered the outer part of the site, and not the old structure itself, but was concerned about what could happen from it. without proper protection and guidance.
The damage was caused by workers building a road linking the ash-Shamaliya city of Asira with the nearby Palestinian city of Nablus.
The city has apologized for the alleged damage.
“We are currently working on the refurbishment of the road linking the town to the east of Nablus,” the town said. “The work is being carried out by a private contractor who appears to have damaged it. a wall near the road. The contractor will repair the damage, which was unfortunately caused. “
On Friday, President Reuven Rivlin called on the IDF to investigate the damage.
“The reports of damage to the altar site … are of great concern to me, and I am writing to you to investigate the matter in detail to ensure that there is no further damage to it. heritage sites, “Rivlin wrote in a letter to Commercial Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz.” There are many sacred sites on our land that are of great religious, historical and archaeological value. the inclusion of the altar of Joshua … heritage sites of incredible national and universal value. “

“Even for those who do not believe that the altar was built by Joshua, I think the site remains one of the most important in Israel since the Iron Age,” Bar said.

Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.