Ancient temple and relics from 2750-years ago found in Israel

First Posted: Dec 27, 2012 06:11 PM EST

Archaeologists announced this week that they have found a 2,750-year-old temple in Israel, close to Jerusalem, filled with pottery and clay figures which might have been the site of 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," the Israeli Antiquities Authority said in a statement. As it happens on a regular basis in Europe, the excavation site was found while building a new highway, which the National Roads Company is working on close to Jerusalem.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority directors say the newly discovered temple "must have been active in an era prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem."
The temple apparently has massive walls and a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction at the time. "The rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within," the directors added.

Other notable features include an altar surrounded by relics like pottery chalices, decorated ritual pedestals and two different kinds of pottery figurines. Among them were human-like heads and harnessed horses, suggesting a Philistine coastal culture influence.
"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," the Israeli Antiquities Authority warned.

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