Ancient temple, rare ritual tools discovered near Jerusalem

Click photo to download. Caption: The archeological find at Tel Motza. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority. (Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Archeologists got a rare glimpse of religious life in the days of Israel’s Judean kings when they discovered an ancient temple and tools apparently used in rituals around 2,750 years ago at the Tel Motza excavation site west of Jerusalem. The project, which is being managed by the Israel Antiquities Authority, began recently ahead of construction on part of Route 1 between Shaar Hagai and Jerusalem.

Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, who are in charge of the project on behalf of the authority, pointed out that the shape of the ancient temple found at the site was unusual. “It is a rare find in light of the lack of other such discoveries dating back to the time of the Kingdom of Judah and the First Temple. The temple is also an outstanding find due to its proximity to Jerusalem, which served as the Judean kingdom’s ritual center at that time,” Eirikh said. “Among other items, pottery with male figures etched on them, one with a beard, were also found, though we are unsure as to their meaning.”

Tel Motza has been known as an important archeological area for some time. Many items have been discovered there dating from various ancient periods. At the beginning of the 1990s and 2000s the site was excavated as part of the work being done on Route 1. At that time, excavators asserted that the site was associated with the Biblical city of Motza, which is mentioned in the book of Isaiah as a city in the tribe of Benjamin, bordering the tribe of Judah.

Among the findings was a public structure, a large warehouse, and a large number of granaries.

Posted on December 26, 2012 .