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2,750-year-old temple discovered three miles west of Jerusalem

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A most amazing find has been uncovered three miles west of Jerusalem. While workers were excavating for Israel's Highway 1, a 2,750-year-old temple was found. The temple held a treasure trove of figurines, which suggest the place was a onetime home to a ritual cult.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Israeli Antiquities Authority says the discovery was made during preparations for a new section of the planned highway.

"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 were quoted as saying.

According to the Bible, the First Temple was built in Jerusalem by Solomon, son of King David, and archaeologists estimate that construction was undertaken in the 10th century B.C.

The Tel Motza temple must have been active in an era "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," The excavation's directors said.

Tel Motza is thought to have been associated with the ancient settlement called "Mozah" in the Book of Joshua. Archaeologists had uncovered a large structure with storehouses and a number of silos in previous excavations. Authorities say that the structure might have served as a storage facility for Jerusalem's grain supplies.

Among the many striking fixtures, the temple has massive walls and a wide, east-facing entrance. This falls in line with 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," authorities say.

Archaeologists found what appeared to be a square altar inside, which included a cache of ritual items. Those items included fragments of pottery chalices, decorated ritual pedestals and two types of pottery figurines. Some of the figurines represented animals, such as horses in harnesses, while others had human-like heads with curling hair and flat headdresses. Such figurines hint at the influence of Philistine coastal culture.

"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 directors said.

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