Tel ‘Eton (also Tel Eiton and Tel Aitun) is not the easiest archaeological site to locate. The site is situated on Israel’s border with the Palestinian West Bank. Palestine is on the east side of the mound and a military firing range is on the west side. When Leon Mauldin and I located the place we decided it would be best to stick to the gravel road without straying too far to the left or the right — sort of like Joshua.
“Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. (Joshus 23:6-7 NAU)
Tel ‘Eton currently is equated with biblical Eglon by many scholars. Recent excavations have been conducted under the direction of Prof. Avi Faust of Bar Ilan University.
Here is a photo of the tel from the south and perhaps a little to the east.
Tel ‘Eton (Tel Eiton; Tel Aitun) from the south (and east). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Eglon is mentioned at least eight times in the Bible, all in the book of Joshua (10:3, 5, 23, 34, 36, 37; 12:12). The Scripture emphasizes that Israel defeated the king of Eglon. Notice the relationship between Lachish and Eglon.
And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish. Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. (Joshua 10:34-36 NAU)
The distance from Lachish to Eglon (on a straight line) is 7 miles. From Eglon to Hebron is 10½ miles.
A recent article in Popular Archaeology reports,
An archaeological team has uncovered remains of what may have been an administrative center during the period when Judahite kings ruled out of ancient Jerusalem.
Led by project director Avraham Faust, an archaeologist with Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, Israel, excavations at the site of Tel ‘Eton located on the edge of the fertile Shephelah and the Hebron hill country to its east have revealed structures, artifacts, and fortifications that tell of an ancient city that historically straddled the eastern edge of the lowlands between the biblical kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem in the east and the cities of the Philistines on the Mediterranean coastal plains of the west.
Among the finds was a large, 240 sq.m. 8th century BCE house structure built following a four-room plan typical of ancient Israelite dwellings, featuring high-quality construction and, with its location at the highest point on the mound, commanding a strategic view of all areas below. The ancient building, along with its town context, was strategically located at the cross-roads of important north-south and east-west routes, set above fertile agricultural country.
“The structure was excavated, almost in its entirety, and was composed of a large courtyard with rooms on three sides,” stated Faust. “The building was nicely executed, including ashlar stones in the corners and openings. Hundreds of artifacts were unearthed within the debris, including a wide range of pottery vessels, loom weights, many metal objects, botanical remains, as well as many arrowheads, evidence of the battle which accompanied the conquest of the site by the Assyrians.”
The article also reports,
But the most abundant finds for the early periods were dated to the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1550-1200/1150 BCE).
That is the period of Joshua.
Here is a portion of the excavation from 2011.
Tel Eton excavation in 2011. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The Tel ‘Eton Excavations website contains many small photos, plans, history, bibliography, etc.
HT: Joseph Lauer