According to the books of Samuel and Chronicles, the Ark of the Covenant was kept at various locations in the Land of Israel, the last of which was the town of Kiriath Jearim, until King David brought it to Jerusalem. An excavation at what is thought to be this town has revealed a large elevated podium that Israel Finkelstein—the dig’s co-director and one of Israel’s leading archaeologists—believes was built to commemorate the Ark’s sojourn there. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:
The elevated rectangular podium . . . can be reconstructed to have covered an area of more than four acres. Created with typical Iron Age walls, which still stand at some six-feet tall, it is oriented exactly north-south and east-west.
It is an oddity in the kingdom of Judah, which, according to the Bible, once ruled Kiriath-Jearim. Finkelstein and his co-directors believe the platform may have been a shrine built by the Northern Kingdom [to compete with Jerusalem, located firmly in the Southern Kingdom of Judah], in commemoration of the Ark of the Covenant story. . . .
According to the archaeologists, other similar platforms were well-known in the Northern Kingdom during the suggested window of time, including in the capital Samaria. The pottery debris close to the wall dates to the period from 900 to 700 BCE and the timing of the construction could also point to the Northern Kingdom: “An elevated platform at Kiriath-Jearim could have been built by [the Northern Kingdom] following the subjugation of Judah by [the north’s] King Joash,” as noted in 2Kings 14:11-13, stated the archaeologists. . . .
The archaeological dig is unusually located on private church property under the protection of the French government, a situation stemming from a 1949 agreement with the fledgling state of Israel. Today the site serves as the Convent of the Ark of the Covenant, which covers the hill’s summit, and is occupied by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition.