| 6 September 2010
Moabite temple unearthed in Jordan
Joint Jordanian-US excavations at Khirbat 'Ataroz (Jordan), have revealed 'the largest and most complete' Iron Age temple in the region, archaeologists announced. The three-story temple, with a main room measuring 29.6 by 13.1 metres, two antechambers and an open courtyard dates to between 1200 and 539 BCE, contained four altars of stone and a raised rectangular high place, features not previously found in Jordan. One altar has features suggesting contacts with Assyrian and Egyptian cultures.
Khirbat 'Ataroz was one of the most important Moabite cities and the temple reveals "archaeological proof of the level of advancement of technology and civilization at that period of time," explained Ziad al-Saad of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. As well as the impressive architectural remains, more than 300 clay and bronze artifacts were found, including a figurine of the animal god Hadad and delicate circular ritual vessels.
Excavations have been ongoing since 2000, carried out by a Jordanian team and Californian La Sierra University, USA, although most finds were discovered recently. The evidence indicates that the Moabites worshipped of a variety of deities and had an organized use of temples, noted al-Saad.
The kingdom of Moab lay along the mountainous strip of land along the eastern shores of the Dead Sea and the Moabites were often in conflict with their neighboring Israelites. The kingdom was conquered by Babylon in 582 BCE. The objects found will be displayed in Jordan's archaeology museum after analysis and conservation.
Sources: Associated Press, MSNBC (1 September 2010), Middle East Online (2 September 2010)
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