According to the book of Samuel, the city of Kiryat Ye’arim housed the sacred tabernacle—and was thus the center of Israelite worship—until King David moved it to Jerusalem. Archaeologists are planning to start digging there for the first time, as Ilan Ben Zion writes:
Kiryat Ye’arim is mentioned over a dozen times in the Bible as a Judahite town situated near Jerusalem during the period of the judges and King David—the Iron Age, in archaeological terms. . . . “The place is important for several reasons,” Israel Finkelstein, [one of the project’s directors, said]. “It’s a large, central site in the Jerusalem hills that hasn’t been studied until now. It may be the only key site in Judah that hasn’t undergone a systematic archaeological excavation.”
One of the tantalizing aspects of Kiryat Ye’arim is the likelihood of there having been an ancient temple at the site, remains of which may lie buried. Such a discovery could help scholars better understand cultic practices in Judah during the Iron Age.
In several parts of the biblical narrative, Kiryat Ye’arim is alluded to as a site of religious worship. It’s referred to variously as Kiryat Ba’al, Ba’alah, and Ba’aley Yehudah in the book of Joshua, suggesting the site was at some point affiliated with worship of Baal, storm god of the Canaanite pantheon.
More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Ark of the Covenant, Book of Samuel, History & Ideas, King David