Bull Site

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Bull Site
The Bull Site.png
The Bull Site on the Dhahrat et-Tawileh ridge
Bull Site is located in West Bank
Bull Site
Shown within West Bank
LocationDhahrat et-Tawileh
RegionWest Bank
Coordinates32°24′33″N 35°19′25″E / 32.409152°N 35.323578°E / 32.409152; 35.323578Coordinates: 32°24′33″N 35°19′25″E / 32.409152°N 35.323578°E / 32.409152; 35.323578
Altitude455 m (1,493 ft)
TypeCult installation
Length23 metres
Width21 metres
Area380 sqr metres
MaterialStone, Bedrock
Founded12th century BCE
Abandoned12th century BCE
PeriodsIron IA
CulturesIsraelite or Canaanite
Site notes
Excavation datesApr 1978, Sept 1981
ArchaeologistsAmihai Mazar
ConditionIn ruins

The Bull Site in the West Bank is an open air ancient cult installation[1] from 12th century BCE Canaan, and is the find spot for the Bull statuette.

The bronze Bull Statuette discovered at the 12th century BCE cult site at Dhahrat et-Tawileh, West Bank


The site is located on the Dhahrat et-Tawileh ridge in the hills of the northern West Bank[2] in the Jenin Governorate, 75 meters above the ancient road[3][4] through the Zababdeh valley[5] between Dothan and Tirzah.[6] It lies approximately 6 km south of Jenin, and 4 km east of Qabatiya. The site provides commanding views of other high points in northern Canaan including Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor, Mount Meron, Mount Gilboa, and Jebel Tamun.[7]

Dhahrat et-Tawileh Ridge


The site was discovered in 1977 by Ofer Broshi, a member of Kibbutz Shamir and soldier in the Israeli army, where he unearthed an ancient bull statuette. He brought the figurine back to his kibbutz where it was put on display with other antiquities owned by the kibbutz.[8][9] While on display it was spotted by archaeologist Amihai Mazar who arranged its transfer to the Israel Museum where it is now part of the permanent collection.[10] Based on Broshi's description Mazar was able to locate the find spot at Dhahrat et-Tawileh and begin excavations.[11]

Excavation history[edit]

Two short excavations were conducted by Mazar in April 1978 and September 1981 on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[12] Results of the excavation show that the site was single-phase (Iron IA)[13][14] and was abandoned after only a short period of use.[7][15] The archaeological evidence indicates the site's use as a cultic installation[16] though the flint and pottery assemblage discovered potentially indicates domestic use.[17] A dating of the site to the Middle Bronze Age[18] is based on a misreading of the pottery evidence[19] and as such an early 12th century dating should be retained.[20]

Cult installation[edit]

The Standing Stone at the Bull Site

Though there are a number of Iron Age I settlements in the area,[21] the Bull Site lacks any evidence of settlement. Instead it sits on the summit of Dhahrat et-Tawileh and is thought to have served as a cult site for the surrounding settlements due to its hilltop location.[7][22]

Built on bedrock in the 12th century, the site comprises a perimeter wall made from large boulders brought in from elsewhere,[23] and what is thought to be a standing stone or altar with a paved area in front of it next to the enclosure's eastern entrance.[24] Mazar, the excavation director, speculates that a sacred tree likely grew within the site's walls.[25][26]

There is no agreement on the ethnicity of the local settlers who used the site, with suggestions ranging from the Israelites due to the site's location in Mannaseh's tribal allotment,[1][27][28][29] the Canaanites,[30] or migrants from north of Canaan.[31]

Alternative views are that the site could have been a home for a family and their animals, or an enclosure for livestock.[30]

Bull statuette[edit]

The statuette, found close to the western wall of the site,[32] is of a Zebu bull measuring 17.5 cm long by 12.4 cm high and is made of bronze.[33] It is notable not only for its naturalistic ears and eyes,[33] but for being the largest such bull statuette found in Israel.[32] Though Mazar suggests it may be the product of a local Israelite craftsman,[22] other scholars such as Ahlström believe it came either from Galilee, or further north again above the land of Canaan.[31]

There is no consensus about which deity the statuette represents;[34] it could be an image of El,[35] Baal,[36] or Yahweh.[37][38]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bloch-Smith & Nakhai 1999, p. 76.
  2. ^ Mazar 1982, pp. 32-33.
  3. ^ Dorsey 1991, pp. 144-145.
  4. ^ Miller II 2003, p. 161.
  5. ^ Zertal 2008, p. 29.
  6. ^ Nakhai 2001, p. 170.
  7. ^ a b c Mazar 1982, p. 33.
  8. ^ Mazar 1982, p. 41.
  9. ^ Mazar 1983, p. 34.
  10. ^ "Israel Museum Collection - Bull Statuette". www.imj.org.il.
  11. ^ Mazar 1983, pp. 34-35.
  12. ^ Mazar 1993, pp. 266-267.
  13. ^ Mullins 2012, pp. 590-592.
  14. ^ Faust 2006, p. 119.
  15. ^ Ahlström 1990, pp. 80-81.
  16. ^ Mazar 1983, pp. 35-36.
  17. ^ Miller II 2005, p. 46.
  18. ^ Finkelstein 1998, pp. 94-98.
  19. ^ Na'aman 1994, pp. 167-169.
  20. ^ Mazar 1999, pp. 144-148.
  21. ^ Khirbet Abu Ghamam, Khirbet Tanin, Khirbet Anahum, Khirbet esh-Sheik Seffrin, and esh-Zababde. See Mazar 1983, p. 36.
  22. ^ a b Mazar 1983, p. 39.
  23. ^ Zevit 2003, p. 233.
  24. ^ Mazar 1982, p. 34.
  25. ^ Mazar 1982, p. 35.
  26. ^ Mazar 1983, p. 37.
  27. ^ Mazar 1982, p. 38.
  28. ^ Nakhai 1994, pp. 19-29.
  29. ^ Joshua 17:1–13
  30. ^ a b Coogan 1987, p. 1.
  31. ^ a b Ahlström 1990, p. 81.
  32. ^ a b Ahlström 1990, p. 79.
  33. ^ a b Mazar 1982, p. 27.
  34. ^ Ahlström 1990, p. 80.
  35. ^ KTU 1.14:2:22–24 "Raise your hands toward the sky. Sacrifice to Bull El, your Father." Smith & Parker 1997, p. 14.
  36. ^ Miller 2000, p. 32.
  37. ^ Smith 2002, pp. 83-84.
  38. ^ Bloch-Smith & Nakhai 1999, pp. 76-77.