Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

1499-1500 Adam Zertal – The Altar on Mt. Ebal


Adam Zertal

On a chilly winter evening in 1993 I made my way to kibbutz En Shemer in Israel to interview Adam Zertal, a University of Haifa archaeologist, about his discovery on Mt. Ebal. Amidst museum displays highlighting the agricultural history of the kibbutz there was a small room highlighting the archaeological work done by one of its most famous residents, this archaeologist who decided to take up the search for biblical evidence during his recovery of wounds suffered during the Yom Kippur War.

As recently as 2009 we highlighted Zertal’s discovery of an underground quarry near Jericho. And his archaeological surveys may be his most important legacy.

But it was the 1980 discovery of a cultic structure on Mt. Ebal that Zertal may be most known for. Not every archaeologist believes that this is an actual altar, but Zertal believes the evidence is clear, and he is clearly intrigued by the possible connection to the account in Joshua 8:30 which says that the Israelites built an altar on Mt. Ebal. It is one of the amazing mysteries of biblical archaeology.

We learned last week that Adam Zertal died on October 18, 2015. He was 79. In honor of his dedication to archaeology in the land of Israel, we are once again highlighting that 1993 interview.

The second half of the interview, program 1500, focuses on Zertal’s survey archaeology in the hills of Samaria, and it’s Exodus connection.

Photo credit: “Adam Zartal” by Hanay – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –


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