So it turns out that my guess (see previous post) was pretty much dead on. The press conference this morning (via Jim West’s blog) has unveiled a stone and a ceramic temple model, which Garfinkel is interpreting related to the ark of the covenant and architectural features of the temple in Jerusalem (as described in the Hebrew bible). This information is more or less third hand, as soon as there is a press release or more formal information I will have an update. For now it appears that these models shrines are not anything too unique for this time period (Iron IIA), see these images of the Yavneh favissa. The unique aspect of these finds are their interpretation, which I am withholding judgement on until reading a more complete explanation.
More to come later in the day…
Update: Here is the official Hebrew University press release. It contains much more information about the archaeological context of the cultic objects previously mentioned. There is also a link to some high quality images of the finds and the shrine(s) in which they were found. These finds are very important but I think the aniconic nature of the cult is overstated. Maybe no figurines were found, but the one model shrine has examples of lions and birds on it. Also this shrine (and the stone one as well, although I can’t find an exact parallel right now) has very close parallels. The three birds on top of the Qeiyafa shrine are broken off, as is one of the lions, but the parallels should be clear. Another almost exact parallel was first published by William Dever in BAR 34/2 where he compellingly argues that it should be associated with Asherah.
Update 2: Here are links to my previous blog posts on Finkelstein’s opinions on Qeiyafa and the matter of a separate Shephelan polity.