Israeli archeologists have discovered the
remains of an ancient temple that is nearly 3,000 years old and was once home to
a ritual cult.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of
the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in
Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh,
Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz said in a statement released by the Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The temple remains were discovered at the Tel Motza site, located to the west of
Jerusalem. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has been conducting excavation
efforts at the site and says that along with the temple remains itself, the
findings include a “cache of sacred vessels” estimated to be 2,750 years old.
"Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them
bearded, whose significance is still unknown," the statement from Khalaily and
Log notes that the discovery was
made during preparations for a new section of Israel’s Highway 1. Because of the
number of historical sites and artifacts in and near Jerusalem, the Israeli
government typically conducts similar archeological excavation efforts before
beginning construction on major infrastructure projects.
head figurines discovered at the 2,750-year-old site (Clara Amit, courtesy
Israel Antiquities Authority)Dating back to the Iron Age, the
temple was designed in accordance with similar layouts for other religious
buildings from that era, according to the Israeli government. More from its
“The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing
entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near
East: The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object
placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square
structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and
the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure.”
The excavation directors said they will continue to examine the findings and
conduct further digs while preparations for the highway construction continue.
"The find of the sacred structure, together with the accompanying cache of
sacred vessels, and especially the significant coastal influence evident in the
anthropomorphic figurines, still require extensive research," they said.