Mt. Ebal, the highest mountain (over 3,000 feet) in northern Samaria, the mountain where the curses were pronounced (Deuteronomy 27–28) and the mountain where Joshua raised his altar (Joshua 8:30–35), now figures in a bitter dispute. Long hidden under a stone heap on a northeastern ridge of Mt. Ebal, a controversial stone structure may be the remains of an independent altar—the principal structure of a bamah, or “high place”—or of a farmhouse/watchtower, according to differing interpretations of the evidence. Discovered by Haifa University’s Adam Zertal during a 1980 archaeological survey of the mountain, the site has many potsherds dating from the early part of Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.), the period generally accepted as the date of Israel’s settlement of Canaan.

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