The end of the year always has a way of kicking you in the gut a little bit. You begin to look back on your year and perhaps tell yourself “I had a pretty good year. I got some things done that I’m happy about.” And then you stumble across a story about the unearthing of a 2,750-year-old temple and begin to feel sad.
For now, let’s focus on the story.
“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 Judea at the time of the First Temple,” said excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz. They said the structure’s uniqueness was enhanced by the site’s proximity to Jerusalem, which was the kingdom’s main center and the seat of kings David and Solomon.
An IAA statement described the walls of the structure as massive, and said it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: the rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the objects placed inside the temple, symbolizing the divine presence within. A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure. The assemblage includes ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on high bases which were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines.
No word yet from Mahmoud Abbas about whether this find constitutes a Jewish historical presence in the region or not.