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.