A 2,750-year-old temple has been found near Jerusalem by archaeologists, along with pottery figurines, ornately decorated pedestals, and fragments of chalices that give an insight into alternative religious practices from the time.
The stunning collection of sacred artifacts was revealed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority on Wednesday.
The 2,750-year-old temple was found near Jerusalem at the Tel Motza archaeological site, as preparation began for work on a new highway. Experts say the various artifacts discovered show the site was formerly a place of worship for a ritual cult.
Excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily, and Shua Kisilevitz revealed:
“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 uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.”
The 2,750-year-old temple found near Jerusalem features huge walls and an east-facing entrance, traits that match the tradition of temple construction in that region at the time. Investigations into the site have only just begun, with the excavation directors explaining:
“[…] 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.”
Finds such as the temple are especially rare because ritual practices considered “alternative” were banned in Jerusalem by King Solomon about 3,000 years ago, after the construction of the city’s First Temple.
The directors said that the site probably existed “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.”