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3,000-year-old temple and sacred vessels unearthed near Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A temple and sacred vessels from the First Temple period were discovered near Jerusalem.

The nearly 3,000-year-old temple was unearthed by the Israel Antiquities Authority during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site west of Jerusalem, prior to work being carried out on a planned expansion of Highway 1.

"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. 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," Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

Many finds have previously been uncovered at the Tel Motza site, from a variety of periods.

Among the vessels unearthed in this recent find are ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on a high base that were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines of humans with a flat headdress and curling hair; and figurines of harnessed animals.

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