The Lachish Latrine

This morning while checking the latest posts on Facebook I discovered that Tel Lachish was in the news. I had eagerly been waiting for this news and planned to write a blog post as soon as it was released. However, it came on a busy day for me. I had early morning conference calls and then a long day in the classroom.

Here is a link to the first news item that I saw:

Large First Temple Period Gate-Shrine Excavated in Central Israel

I sent a message to Luke Chandler as soon as I saw the article. Luke and I have dug together at Lachish for the past two years.

Luke found out more information and wrote a blog post that you can read here:

Temple from Hezekeiah’s Time Found at Lachish (Photos and Video)

8th Century BC toilet, Tel Lachish, Desecration, shrine

(Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

To me the most interesting thing that was announced was the finding of a toilet or latrine in the gate area of Lachish. See II Kings 10:27, it looks like a similar event happened at Lachish.

Igor, Tel Lachish, Sherd Nerd, ArchaeologyWhile at Lachish this summer our area supervisor was Igor Kramerman. At the end of the first week of the dig Igor gave us a personal tour of the gate area of Lachish. Igor was involved in the excavations earlier in the year.

Tel Lachish, Archaeology, Gate Area, Latrine, PalaceOur first view of the gate area was from on top of the ruins of the palace platform. If you look closely you can see a wooden structure in the distance.

(Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority), Lachish Gates, Tel Lachish, Archaeology

(Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

In the picture above you can see the gate area of Tel Lachish. The area that was excavated is on the left side. In the third chamber of the gate they found a desecrated shrine which included the toilet or latrine that is shown above.

In Luke’s post he provided a list of highlights from the Israel Antiquities Authority press release.

  • This gate is the largest one known in the country from the First Temple period.
  • The first chamber had benches with armrests, numerous storage jars, grain scoops, and stamped LMLK jar handles. [Note: Jars stamped with LMLK (“belonging to the king”) held grain taxes. The grain scoops probably relate to food rationing during Sennacherib’s siege. – L]
  • The third chamber had a stepped entrance leading into the temple shrine. A walled off “Holy of Holies toward the back contained two four-horned altars.
  • The altars’ horns had been cut off, apparently to desecrate them. This may be evidence of Hezekiah’s religious reforms to centralize worship at Jerusalem’s temple. “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles.” (2 Kings 18:4)
  • A toilet had been installed in the “Holy of Holies” to desecrate the shrine. This recalls Jehu’s destruction of the Baal temple in Samaria, when the site was turned into a latrine. (2 Kings 10:27) Tests indicate the Lachish toilet was never used, which would make its installation symbolic.

Lachish, Archaeology, Gates, Chambers, ShrineHere was our next view of the gates. The chambers of the gate were covered with a wood structure after the excavation was complete. The gate is constructed of mud bricks and the wood structure protects it from the elements.

Gates and Palace, Tel Lachish, Archaeology, Israel Antiquities Authority DigI find this picture interesting as you can clearly see that the gate shrine would have been very close and easily viewed from the palace on top of Tel Lachish.

Gates of Lachish, Latrine, Desecration, archaeology, Wood structure, PreservationHere is a view of the wood structure from the other side. You can see the first and second chambers of the gate here. The chambers also had benches in them where the elders and leaders of the city would sit and hold discussions.

Lachish Iron Age Gates, Sennacherib, Tel Lachish, ArchaeologyHere we see the threshold of the gates. The gate area was very large and had three chambers on both sides. The northern chambers of the gate were excavated during the First Expedition to Lachish (1932 – 1938).

Watch for more news about Lachish in the near future. There will quite a few presentations about Lachish at ASOR in November. It would be nice to be there, but I will be stuck in a classroom.

I really enjoyed my tour of the gate area with Igor. Unfortunately, the bus back to where we were staying took off without us and we had to wait for someone to come back and get us. Seeing the news today and finding out a few more things about the significance of the finds has made that wait worth it 🙂


Articles about the finds at Lachish:

Large First Temple Period Gate-Shrine Excavated in Central Israel

Temple from Hezekeiah’s Time Found at Lachish (Photos and Video)

Israel Antiquities Authority press release

Archaeologists In Israel Find Evidence That Proves Literal Truth Of Bible

I might add some more links here if I can find some more articles.



This entry was posted in Archaeology, Culture, History, Israel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Lachish Latrine

  1. Pingback: Silhouettes at the Dig | Braman's Wanderings

  2. Pingback: Illustrating Jehu | Braman's Wanderings

  3. Kirsty says:

    Really interesting! I’d never really thought about what a biblical toilet would be like 🙂

  4. Pingback: In the BAR XIII | Braman's Wanderings

  5. Pingback: Thinking of Lachish | Braman's Wanderings

  6. Pingback: Lachish in II Kings | Braman's Wanderings

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