Sunday, September 12, 2010


Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed a 3,000-year-old Iron Age temple with a trove of figurines of ancient deities and circular clay vessels used for religious rituals, officials said this week.

The head of the Jordanian Antiquities Department, Ziad al-Saad, said the sanctuary dates to the eighth century BC and was discovered at Khirbat Aataroz, near the town of Mabada, some 32 kilometers southwest of the capital.

Saad said the complex boasts a main room that measures 36 square meters, as well as two antechambers and an open courtyard.

He said the sanctuary and its artifacts – hewn from limestone and basalt or molded from clay and bronze – show the complex religious rituals of Jordan’s biblical Moabite kingdom.

The Moabites, whose kingdom ran along present-day Jordan’s eastern shore of the Dead Sea, were closely related to the Israelites and the two were in frequent conflict. The Babylonians eventually conquered the Moabites in 582 BC.

Archaeologists also unearthed some 300 pots, figurines of deities and sacred vessels used for worship at the site. Saad said it was rare to discover so many Iron Age items in one place.

Excavations began in Khirbat Aataroz in 2000 in cooperation with the California-based La Sierra University, but the majority of the items were only discovered in the past few months.

Among the items on display was a four-legged animal god Hadad, as well as delicate circular clay vessels used in holy rites. Saad said the objects indicate the Moabites worshiped many deities and had a highly organized ritual use of temples.


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