Just 4 miles northwest of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, an archaeological discovery has been made of a massive cultic structure. Dating from about 900 BC and in use until the early sixth century BC, the structure is reportedly based on the same architectural plan as the temple at Jerusalem.

Known as the Motza Expedition Project, the excavation is being led by the Israel Antiquities Authority in conjunction with Tel Aviv University. The Initial discovery of the massive temple complex was made in 2012 in the city of Motza.

Beginning the spring of 2019, a fuller study began and has since unearthed a huge number of cultic artefacts. Excavations are ongoing and some of the walls and perimeter have not yet been unearthed. However, there are a few things that archaeologists say they know for sure.

The temple was very large, around two thirds the size of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem just a few miles away. This close proximity strongly suggests that it would have operated under the auspices of Jerusalem and official polity. Additionally, it utilises a common blueprint known for cultic sites in the region.

Additional items serving as part of the temple’s worship furniture have been identified. These include a stone offering table, chalices, and stands. Nearby, a debris pit has been excavated in which the remains of sacrifices and articles of worship were discarded.

Four very interesting figurines have been recovered – two in the shape of humans, and two in the shape of horses – these appear to be idols. Archaeologists have also discovered tens of thousands of other kinds of artefacts.

Researchers are really curious to discover how long the site was in use. Can it be conclusively shown that this was in fact a polytheistic worship center? If so, was it abandoned as part of the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah, or was it allowed to continue operating in parallel with the main temple?

Patterns of Evidence