Tel Motza temple

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The Tel Motza temple is an ancient Israelite temple located in the area of Motza on the outskirts of Jerusalem, discovered in 2012 by Israeli archaeologists.


Excavations at Tel Motza carried out prior to construction on Highway 1 revealed a public building, storehouses and silos dating to the days of the monarchic period (Iron Age IIA). A wide, east-facing entrance in the wall of the public building is believed to have been built in accordance with temple construction traditions in the Ancient Near East: the sun rising in the east would illuminate an object placed inside the temple, symbolizing the divine presence.[1]

An array of sacred pottery vessels, chalices and small figurines of men and horses were found near the altar of the temple. The cache of sacred vessels has been dated to ca. 750 BCE, that is before the centralising religious reforms of Kings Hezekiah (reign ca. 729–687 BCE) and Josiah (reign ca. 640–609 BCE) of Judah.[1][2]

The temple dates back to the Kingdom of Judah of the mid-8th century BCE, and appears to have operated alongside the First Temple in nearby Jerusalem.[3][4] Jerusalem was the centre of the Kingdom of Judah and, according to the Hebrew Bible, the seat of kings David and Solomon.[2] Many historical finds have been discovered in the area of Tel Motza, dating from different periods, and archaeologists have sought to identify it as the Biblical settlement of Mozah mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 18: 26).[5]

The archaeological site directors said the discoveries provided evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures throughout the Kingdom of Judah before the religious reforms centralized ritual practices at the Temple in Jerusalem. The temple was a rare find of remains from the First Temple period.[2]

Animal bones were found at the site, and show signs of having been cut, possibly indicating that they were sacrificed.[4]

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