This past Wednesday, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs made it public news that a team of archaeologists working at Tel Motza, near Jerusalem, stumbled upon the remains of a temple dating back to biblical times.More precisely, it is believed that both the temple, and the pottery and the clay figurines found at this archaeological site are roughly 2750 years old.
As specialists explain, these findings constitute rare evidence concerning the religious rituals and practices that were in place in the first days of the Kingdom of Judah.
Some of the clay figurines unearthed during these excavations represent men, some of whom are bearded, whereas others represent horses. However, nobody can say for sure what their purpose was or how they were used.
Archaeologists explain that, as far as they can tell, this 2750-year-old temple was a rather large structure, whose architecture is fairly similar to that of the temples erected in the ancient Near East.
Thus, the entrance to the temple was facing east and the courtyard showed clear signs of having housed an altar at one point in the past. Apparently, several sacred vessels were found fairly close to where this altar would have been.
“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in the 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 archaeologists explain.
Furthermore, “The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archaeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general, and in the Jerusalem region in particular, 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 temple was discovered while investigating the landscape in order to carry on with work on a highway.