The Jordanian antiquities department announced today the discovery of a 3,000 year-old Iron Age temple boasting a trove of figurines of ancient deities and circular clay vessels used in religious rituals.

Antiquities chief Ziad al-Saad said archaeologists unearthed the eighth century BC sanctuary at Khirbat Ataroz near the town of Mabada, some 30 km southwest of the capital Amman.

The temple was composed of a main room measuring 97 feet by 43 feet (9 meters by 4 meters), as well as two antechambers and an open courtyard, Mr. al-Saad said.

The sanctuary and its artefacts, hewn from limestone and basalt or moulded from clay and bronze, show the complex religious rituals of Jordan’s ancient biblical Moabite kingdom, according to Mr. al-Saad.

“Today we have the material evidence, the archaeological proof of the level of advancement of technology and civilisation at that period of time,” he said.

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

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