The reports last week on the Iron Age temple discovered at Ataroth (Ataruz) did not include comments from the American director who has overseen work on the site for the last decade. A story in the university’s denomination’s news network gives some more information (and one photo of the temple).
“[This is] the largest and best-preserved temple from the biblical period. It will shed important light on the cultic, or religious, life of that period,” said Dr. Chang Ho Ji, chairman and professor in the Counseling and School Psychology department and a collaborating faculty in the History department of La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Riverside, California.
“This is an extremely important find and one that has relationships to biblical history; it is very exciting,” said Dr. Lawrence Geraty, president emeritus of the school and an archaeology professor there, in an e-mail to Adventist Review. Geraty pioneered the cooperation among several Adventist institutions, including Atlantic Union College, Canadian Union College, Andrews University, and La Sierra, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, starting in 1984 with a dig at Tall al-‘Umayri.
Jordanian Department of Antiquities (DoA) Director General Ziad Saad announced the recent discovery as the largest early Iron Age II temple in the region, dating back to between 1000 and 800 BC.
The multi-chambered temple, which includes a 20-by-20-meter courtyard, yielded over 300 cultic artifacts, leading experts to believe it was once a political and religious base for either the Moabite or the northern Israelite kingdom.