Archaeological excavations west of Jerusalem have uncovered some unexpected artifacts — pottery figurines of men and horses, and other ritual items that are thought to date back some 2,700 years to the start of King David’s early reign and the period of the Jewish kingdom’s divided monarchy.
The east-facing site at Tel Motza, which includes the ruins of an altar, is probably a temple where Jews kept some of the pre-Judaism practices that coexisted alongside the mainstream worship in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple, the Israeli archaeologists said in a statement.
“It’s very interesting to see these religious artifacts and temple so close to Jerusalem, a walking distance,” said Anna Eirikh, dig director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, above. She’s standing at the Tel Motza site, which may be the biblical settlement of Mozah, which is mentioned in the Book of Joshua.
“The ritual building … is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of that period in Judaea,” Eirikh said.
Among the finds: decorated pedestals, pottery vessels and fragments of chalices.
“We know very little about religious practice during the Judean kingdom; there are two or three more sites of worship, and this is the closest to Jerusalem,” Eirikh said.