Archeologists Make Rare Discovery West of Jerusalem
by Zach Pontz
Archeologists made a rare discovery at Tel Motza, to the west of Jerusalem, recently: evidence of the Jewish religious practices and rituals in the early days of the Kingdom of Judah. Among the finds are a ritual building and a cache of sacred vessels some 2,750 years old.
Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, the directors of the excavation, released a joint statement provided by the Israeli Antiquities Authority in which they said: “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 Judaea at the time of the First Temple. The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time.”
Their statement continued: “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.”
Tel Motza and the surrounding region is known for its archaeological treasures. Many finds have previously been uncovered at the site, from a variety of different periods. The Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, prior to work being carried out on the new Highway 1 from Sha’ar HaGai to Jerusalem by the National Roads Company.