The Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting -- which, according to the Bible, housed the Ark of the Covenant -- was a temporary structure made of wooden beams and fabric, not materials cut out for thousands of years of survival.
Nevertheless, undaunted, archaeologists have searched for evidence of the Tent of Meeting for years, which they posited would be found in ancient Shiloh (next to the settlement of Shiloh in the Binyamin region). Now it appears their efforts have borne fruit, yielding assumptions that the Tent of Meeting indeed stood there.
The findings, which will be presented at a conference of the Shiloh Association scheduled to take place this week in ancient Shiloh, include the discovery of holes carved into the ground which could have held the beams of a temporary structure.
Because the Tent of Meeting and Ark of the Covenant were portable, archaeologists are considering the possibility that the Tent of Meeting stood there. The Tent of Meeting served as a place of prayer and sacrifice until the First Temple in Jerusalem was built by King Solomon.
Near the holes, in the northern part of Tel Shiloh, structures were unearthed that correspond to the dates when Joshua first settled the land of Israel until the period of King David's reign.
One of these structures was found to contain ceramic vessels as well as three large taboon clay ovens.
"This is not something that was common in private residences and therefore we do not believe these structures served as family dwellings," explained Hananya Hizmi, staff officer for archeology in the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.
Similarly, evidence has been unearthed of what appears to be the southwestern corner of the wall that encircled Shiloh. This discovery allows archaeologists hypothesize the location of the city's entrance gate. From this, they may eventually be able to derive the location of the Tent of Meeting. According to the accepted theory, that is because the religious cult took place next to the city gate.
At the same time, researchers are being cautious about their conclusions. One significant discovery that would indicate a religious cult would be to find ritual vessels and the bones of sacrificed animals. These have not yet been discovered. Now archaeologists need to complete their dig at the site so that they can determine with certainty whether the Tabernacle did indeed stand in Shlioh.