History of the Site
Ancient Shiloh was first established in the Middle Bronze (MB) II period, around 1650 B.C. It was expanded in MB III, around 1500 B.C. and was continuously occupied until the middle of Iron Age I (around 1050 B.C.) when it was destroyed by the Philistines (See I Samuel 4). It was rebuilt in Iron II (980-587 B.C.) and was occupied through Early Roman times. The Byzantines and Crusaders also built structures there. Most importantly, it was the center of Israelite worship for at least 300 years. The tabernacle was erected at Shiloh and may have been later replaced by a more permanent structure. The city is in the territory of Ephraim, Joshua’s tribe.
History of Excavations
Shiloh was excavated for three seasons by a Danish team between 1926 and 1932 and again in 1963. Israel Finkelstein worked the site from 1981-84. Although a minimalist, Finkelstein confirmed the presence of “proto-Israelites” from the time of the Conquest through the period of the Judges. A very large deposit of burned cultic bones was uncovered, confirming a sacrificial system. Like at Maqatir, the Israelites built their houses against the MB wall. After Finkelstein, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria (KAMAT) renewed sporadic excavations at Shiloh in 1988. To date, the Bronze Age gate has not been found, but there was a glacis (fortification slope) and fortified wall that surrounded the site, which no doubt will eventually lead to the gate.
2017 Proposed Excavation Areas (click to enlarge)
From Ramesses to Shiloh: Archaeological Discoveries Bearing on the Exodus-Judges Period Fall of Shiloh (l Sam. 1-4). Significant architecture from the Iron Age I, the time of Eli, has been excavated at Khirbet Seilun, ancient Shiloh, 17 km south of Shechem. All traces of Iron Age and earlier occupation on the summit of the site unfortunately were removed by later building activity. On the slopes, however, enough material from the Iron Age I period has been found to determine that the settlement at that time was 2 1/2 to 3 acres in size.
2013 Roundup of Significant New Discoveries "These buildings were destroyed in a fierce conflagration. Burnt floors were found all over. Collapsed burnt bricks accumulated on these floors to a height of more than three feet. Some of the bricks had been baked by the blaze that had raged here. Roof collapse was discernible in many places. All this dramatic evidence of fire must be associated with the destruction of Shiloh by the Philistines after they defeated the Israelites near Ebenezer in the mid-11th century B.C. Jeremiah knew what he was talking about when he later threatened the people with destruction like Shiloh’s."
Livyatan-ben-Aryeh, Reut, and Hananya Hizmi. “The Excavations at the Northern Platform of Tel Shiloh the 2012-2013 Seasons [Translated from Hebrew].” Edited by D. Scott Stripling and David E. Graves. Translated by Hillel Richman. Judea and Samarea Studies 23 (2014): 113–30.
Amihai Mazar, "Archaeology and the Bible: Reflections on History Memory in the Deuteronomistic History," in Congress Volume Munich 2013 (Vetus Testamentum Supplementum), ed. C.M. Maier, (Leiden:Brill, 2013): 350-351. (off site link).
Israel Finkelstein, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Zvi Lederman and Baruch Brandl. Shiloh: The Archaeology of a Biblical Site. Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. 1993.
Marie-Louise Buhl and Svend Holm-Nielsen. Shiloh: The Danish Excavations at Tall Sailon, Palestine in 1926, 1929, 1932, and 1963: Pre-Hellenistic Remains. The National Museum of Denmark. 1969.
Donald G. Schley. Shiloh: A Biblical City in Tradition. Sheffield Academic Press. 1989.
David Rubin. God, Israel, and Shiloh. Shiloh Israel Press. 2011.
Holy Land Magazine, "Go Now to My Place at Shiloh," 2016. (off-site link)
Watch Dr. Bryant Wood discuss evidence from Shiloh from 6:00 to 8:30 in this video
Archaeological ages handout Wood 2016.pdf (29.12 kb)
Livyatan Excavations at the Northern Platform of Tel Shiloh 2012 2013 [English].pdf (2.42 mb)