According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), this is the first time archaeological evidence has been found for the practice of desecrating a site in this way.
The gate-shrine in Tel Lachish National Park was uncovered decades ago, but the current excavation has now completely exposed the massive structure.
Preserved at a height of 13 feet, the portal featured six chambers, three on either side of the main street that passed between them.
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Benches with armrests were found in the first chamber.
"According to the biblical narrative, the cities' gates were the place where 'everything took place': the city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials -- everyone would sit on these benches," Sa'ar Ganor, the IAA's excavation director, said.
His team also uncovered jars, scoops for loading grain, terracotta lamps and stamped pot handles.
The seal impressions bear Hezekiah's royal mark and the name of a senior official during Hezekiah's reign, evidence of the military and administrative preparations of the Kingdom of Judah in the war against Sennacherib, king of Assyria.
Ganor also unearthed a large room housing a bench upon which offerings were placed.
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"An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies; to our great excitement, we found two four-horned altars," Ganor said.
Although it is not known which deities were venerated at the gate-shrine, it is clear that the cult was eradicated as the altar horns were intentionally smashed. To make the point clear, a stone toilet was installed.
Laboratory tests revealed the toilet was never used, prompting the archaeologists to conclude that its placement had been symbolic.
The gate was destroyed by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in 701 BC. The excavation revealed arrow heads and sling stones, suggesting that hand-to-hand combat occurred there.
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