Life in the Holy Land: Storing Grain

In Arabic times grain was most commonly stored in grain trunks, called “shrines” by Dalman. They were made out of dried white-washed clay and usually stood in the main room of the farm house. The grain was poured into it from the top, sometimes even from a hole in the roof. A cloth blocked the outflow near floor level. The daily grain would be poured into a basket.


There’s no evidence for such trunks in ancient times. Rather, it seems grain was often stored in pits, particularly during Persian times. Here’s the top of a pit uncovered on Tel Burna. It was excavated to a depth of 1 metre in later seasons. Dalman observed the use of similar pits in the early 20th century in Palestine. Generally they were only used when the harvest was plentiful. The farmers preferred to store the grain in trunks.

In ancient times storage in ceramic jars was also common. Grain storage jars had wide mouths. That’s why archaeologists often refer to them as hole-mouth jars. Several of these smashed storage jars were found on a floor at Tell Halif. The walls seem to have crashed onto the jars when the city was destroyed.

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This entry was posted in Archaeology, artifacts, Customs, excavations, Gustaf Dalman, Judah, Tell Halif and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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