Iron Age temple discovered in Israel amid road construction

Dec 27, 2012
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When you're planning on building a road in Israel near Jerusalem, you have to make more preparations than just flattening the land - case in point: a 2,750 year old temple discovered before a new section of highway was delivered here near the end of 2012. The discovery made here was a ritual building at Tel Motza, dating back to a period in time when not many such structures were built - the site has also shown more than a few bits of pottery and figurines of human forms and heads, as well.

This discovery was made public by a statement released by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and made it clear via excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz that this was no ordinary find. It was a standard bit of archeological excavation, on the other hand, due simply to the possibility of great historical findings in the area on the regular.

"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

The "First Temple" is a place The Bible notes was built in Jerusalem by the son of King David, Solomon. This construction has been estimated to have been made in the 10th century B.C., as noted by Cosmic Log, and this new structure appears to have been made quite a long time ago - to put it lightly. So sayeth the excavation directors, noting that the Tel Motza temple must have been put to use "prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem."

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Above: Archaeologist Anna Eirikh displays a horse figurine at Tel Motza archaeological site on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Baz Ratner / Reuters via Cosmic Log

This find was made near preparations for a new section of Israel's Highway 1 and the "cache of sacred vessels" has been estimated to be 2,750 years old. The few religious buildings made in that era bare similar layouts, each of them made with similar features such as what the directors have described here as a wide, east-facing entrance where "the rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within."

"Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown. ... 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." - excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz

Below: Israeli Antiquities Authority employee displays additional findings from the Tel Motza archaeological site. Baz Ratner / Reuters

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