BAR 1:01, Mar 1975
Horned Altar for Animal Sacrifice Unearthed at Beer-Sheva
The first horned animal altar ever unearthed in ancient Israel was recently excavated by Professor Yohanan Aharoni at Tell Beer-Sheva. The exacavator dates the altar from the 8th century B.C. and possibly earlier.
Altars with horns at each of their four corners are mentioned frequently in the Bible (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25; Ex. 29:12, 30:2; 38:2; 1 Kings 1:50; 2:28, etc.). Indeed the horns are the holiest part of the altar. The expiatory blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled seven times on the horns. A fugitive who managed to catch hold of the horns of the altar would obtain asylum (1 Kings 1:50). (However, the protection does not apply to a murderer, as Joab learned to his sorrow (1 Kings 2:2834)).