Shrine at Horvat Qitmit Danielson, Andrew
The site of Horvat Qitmit is located in the semi-arid Beersheba-Arad valley of the northeastern Negev in the southern Levant. Dating from the 8th through the early 6th century BCE, this site was located within the southern geographic range of influence of the Kingdom of Judah to the north, based at Jerusalem. Nonetheless, the majority of the material culture from Horvat Qitmit shows strong parallels and similarity to that excavated in southern Transjordan, in the Kingdom of Edom. For this reason, Horvat Qitmit has often been called an “Edomite” shrine. In fact, recent research has demonstrated the cultural diversity of this northeastern Negev region that was located along a major east-west trade corridor that connected the Mediterranean Sea to Judah, Edom, and Arabia to the southeast. Due to these trade connections as well as the mobile agropastoral subsistence nature of the region, the “Edomite” material culture at Horvat Qitmit in fact represents persons established within, and local to the region. In addition to travelers and other mobile groups, this “Edomite” subset of the local populace frequented this shrine for generations. The primary deity worshipped at Horvat Qitmit was likely the deity Qos (קוס ,(as is attested in the inscriptions at the site. Qos is primarily known at this time as the foremost deity of Edom. There is evidence for at least one additional deity, a goddess (Astarte or Asherah?) attested in statuary, who may have been understood as the consort of the weather-type deity Qos. The site was eventually abandoned in the late 7th or more likely early 6th century BCE, at a time contemporary to the settlement collapse of this region that was in large part associated with the imperial Neo-Babylonian invasions of the southern Levant.
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