Rare historic temple found in Israel

2nd Jan 2013

Achaeologists in Israel have found a rare temple and religious figurines which are nearly 3,000 years old, according to Israel's Antiquities Authority.

The discoveries, which date back to the Judaean period, were made outside Jerusalem at Tel Motza during archaeological work taking place before the construction of a new highway.

In a statement, the directors of the dig said: "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."

According to director Anna Eirikh, the discoveries were rare evidence of religious practices taking place outside of Jerusalem during the Judaean era.

She said: "What we can say for sure is the figurines served for religious purposes, and that Tel Motza was a Judaean kingdom."

The findings have been dated to the 9th to 10th century BC, when the First Temple would already have been constructed in Jerusalem.

She added: "It's very interesting to see these religious artefacts and temple so close to Jerusalem, a walking distance.

"We know very little about religious practice during the Judaean kingdom, there are two or three more sites of worship, and this is the closest to Jerusalem."

Ritual pottery vessels, fragments of chalices and figurines of animals were among the items found near an altar of a temple.

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