Archaeologists find stone toilet in religious shrine


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Archaeologists have uncovered what is obviously a stone toilet that appears to have been installed by the king inside a religious shrine in order to intentionally desecrate it.

Apart from being the nerve center of the city’s bureaucratic system, the site also housed a gate shrine, which was accessible via “steps … in the form of a staircase [that] ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed.” While finding religious artifacts such as altars and ceremonial artifacts is par for the course at such sites, what has gotten archaeologists buzzing is something far more incongruous: “A stone fashioned in the shape of a chair with a hole in its center.” In other words, a toilet.

Installing such an object in the Holy of Holies, a sacred inner sanctum in the shrine accessible only to a High Priest, would have been considered “the ultimate desecration” of a holy space, which was most likely what [King] Hezekiah in mind. A purely symbolic act – lab tests have confirmed that the commode was never used – it was meant to show pagan worshippers that he meant business when he declared he was getting rid of religious cults.

While such practices, most notably King Jehu’s destruction of temples dedicated to the pagan god Baal, have been documented in the Bible, this is the first time that archaeological evidence has confirmed it.

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4 comments

  • hondo

    Odd interpretation. Why wouldn’t a toilet (a luxury) be found in an important place and available to key people?

    Been to churches and temples (Jewish and Buddhist) – and they were all equipped with said facilities. What’s different now from then?

  • Edward

    hondo asked: “Why wouldn’t a toilet (a luxury) be found in an important place and available to key people? … What’s different now from then?

    The article stated: “Installing such an object in the Holy of Holies, a sacred inner sanctum in the shrine accessible only to a High Priest

    I suspect that there is not much different between then and now, as the “facilities” were and are unlikely to be installed within the inner sanctum but in a separate room, probably in an area more accessible to the janitor.

  • Laurie

    This would be consistent with 1 Kings 18:27 (NLT)

    About noontime Elijah began mocking them (the prophets of Baal). “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”

    It seems every generation takes some satisfaction in (eventually) saying, “I told you so.”

  • A. Feit

    It is said that Baal was served by defecating in or around it. The more the better. By displaying a toilet in the temple of
    Baal could be interpreted as to defile the idol.

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