Shiloh was a Canaanite city beginning in about the 18th century BCE.
After the Israelites settled the area (around the 13th century BCE), Shiloh became the central national religious shrine. It held this role until it was destroyed, apparently by the Philistines, around 1050 BCE. Within a century, Jerusalem was chosen as the site for a new central shrine (and has remained the center of Jewish worship ever since). Shiloh was rebuilt some time later, but never regained its former importance.
The Byzantine Christians were aware of the site's religious history, and built basilicas whose mosaic floors can still be seen today.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, the site came under Israeli rule, and in 1978 a Jewish settlement was established nearby. In the early 2000s, the archaeological site was prepared for tourists, and excavations continue. The modern settlement is now known as "Shiloh" and the historic site as "Tel Shiloh".
Shiloh is located on route 60, the main north-south road in the West Bank, about 20km north of Ramallah and 25km south of Nablus. Turn east at the Shiloh junction, then be ready to turn left (after 200m) on a short road which goes to the archaeological site.
From Nablus or Ramallah, you can probably take a bus or service taxi which will pass through the Shiloh junction on road 60. However, they may be suspicious of you for wanting to get off near a Jewish settlement. From the junction, it is a 5-minute walk to the site.
Shiloh is a historical site that has religious significance for Jews and Christians.
Entering the site from the south, the first thing you will see is a group of small modern buildings. Here you can get tours and explanations of the ritual service that was once practiced in Shiloh. This is also where you get admission tickets and can buy refreshments.
Walking north towards the ancient site, on your right are excavated Byzantine buildings, one of which has been fully reconstructed and is quite impressive. The mosaic floors here are worth seeing too.
Continuing north, you will reach the hill where the Biblical city of Shiloh was located. You can walk around it and see various remains from the Israelite period.
No traces of the Biblical shrine remain, and current opinions differ on whether it was atop the hill, or on a flat area just north of the hill. The current tourism authority seems to prefer the second opinion, as it has built an indoor theater atop the hill, which projects videos of the Biblical rituals onto a semitransparent screen which overlooks the flat area. The video is a little cheesy, but definitely worth seeing because it gives a vivid picture of what Shiloh was once like.
- 1 Ancient ruins of old Shiloh.