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The altar (on the left) belongs to a private house in Shechem, perhaps dating back to the first half of the 1st millennium BCE; the pillar is from Megiddo (12th-10th century BCE). Perhaps fragrant incense was burnt on the altar, whereas a drink offering could have been poured in the dish on top of the pillar (on the left).
Megiddo was the most important city of the Jezreel Valley, which can rightly be called the granary of Israel. Already in the 3rd millennium BCE, there was an important settlement with large temples. The picture shows the altar of burned offering of that time, as well as the wall of one of the two other temples.
On a large monolithic altar of burned offering (picture on the left) the fatty portions of the sacrifice were burned first. According to the Semitic notion, those portions were the best parts of the sacrificial animal, which thus were offered to God in appreciation. The altars of burned offering often had a bezel around it, so that the blood of the sacrifice could be thrown against the base of the altar underneath the bezel. Frankincense was only burned on altars like that in the Postexilic Period. But besides those types, there also were small, cubic altars of incense all over the Near East. They were normally 10 by 10 by 10 cm and were used in private homes.
The picture shows, in four rows, livestock that was most important to the people in antiquity. Cattle are depicted in the row at the top. They were raised for meat and milk, but also as draft animals for puling simple carts or the plow. The row below shows donkeys, the typical pack animal of the Near East. Goats and sheep are pictured in the last two rows. They were the most common livestock; less difficult to raise and providers of milk and meat; they were actually part of every household.
The Assyrian relief shows a hunting dog used for hunting deer, etc. However, in antiquity dogs were domesticated only in a minimal way. A number of dogs were roaming around and thus quite dangerous, because sometimes they also attacked humans.
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