The IAA archaeologists believe they have discovered an ancient temple at the site that functioned at the same time as Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. IAA archaeologist Anna Eirikh said, “It’s very interesting to see these religious artifacts and temple so close to Jerusalem. We know very little about religious practice during the Judean kingdom. We know of two or three more sites of worship, but this is the closest to Jerusalem.” The finds, dated to the early monarchic period and including pottery figurines of men and horses, provide rare evidence of a ritual cult in the Jerusalem region at the beginning of the period of the monarchy.
The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find as there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time. Tel Motza and the surrounding region are renowned for their prime archaeological importance. Many finds have previously been uncovered at the site, from a variety of different periods.
Ritual elements in the Kingdom of Judah are recorded in archaeological research, especially from the numerous pottery figurines and other sacred objects found at many sites in Israel, and these are usually attributed to domestic rituals. However, the remains of platforms and temples used for ritual ceremonies have only been found at a few sites of this period. According to the IAA site directors, “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.”
Source: Excerpts of an article by Edgar Asher, Ashernet
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