During an initiated excavation at Tel Shiloh this past week, five whole storage jars were discovered, standing in a row inside a building from the Talmudic period (200-400 CE).
Surprisingly, the jars were not found on the floor of the room, but rather under the floor. They were apparently placed in a lower level and covered with fill dirt up to their tops, which were the height of the floor. The archaeologists believe that the jars were buried under the floor to keep their contents at a fixed and cool temperature.
In any event, their burial in the fill is also what preserved them completely whole and prevented later fills from getting into them. This situation enables researchers to use scientific methods to check the residue of the substances that were in the jars, and remains that were left on their inner sides.
The jars were discovered during an excavation which took place on the southern slope of Tel Shiloh, under the auspices of the Staff Officer of Archaeology of Judea and Samaria. This is a scientific excavation aimed mainly at clarifying the route of the city wall and the location of the entrance to the city in ancient times. The diggers made a trench at the southern edges of the tel and exposed layers from all the active periods at the site, starting from the Bronze Age and ending with the Ottoman era.
The Canaanite wall at the site was first discovered during the excavations of the Danish Expedition, whose hundredth anniversary is being marked this year. Other findings unearthed by the Danish Expedition include a row of jars from the period of the Tabernacle (Iron Age I). The jars were discovered in one of the buildings in the city.
Since that excavation, rows of storage jars have become part of Shiloh’s character, and almost every expedition that has excavated the site has found such jars, both from that era and from later eras.
The findings of the current excavation, as well as research on Shiloh, were presented at a conference marking 100 years of excavations at Shiloh.