Jordanian and US archaeologists have discovered what they say is a 3000-year-old Iron Age temple dating from the country's biblical Moabite kingdom, the antiquities department said on Thursday.
A joint team from the department and La Sierra University in the United States uncovered the temple, which dates back to between 1200 BC and 539 BC, in Khirbat 'Ataruz, near the town of Mabada southwest of Amman, a statement said.
The three-storey temple, which has a multi-chambered sanctuary and open courtyard, "is the largest and most complete in the region", the statement said.
It added that the dig also unearthed more than 300 Moabite artefacts, including a figurine of four-legged animal god Hadad.
Objects related to several ancient cults were discovered, the statement said, "in addition to four altars of stone and a raised rectangular high place" - found for the first time in Jordan.
It said one altar bears Egyptian and Assyrian artistic influences, indicating contacts the ancients had with neighbouring civilisations.
"Khirbat 'Ataruz can be considered as one of the most important Moabite cities mentioned in the historical sources," the department said of the site where archaeology excavations began in 2000.
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in modern-day Jordan running along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.
In ancient times it was home to the kingdom of the Moabites, who were probably Canaanite tribes which settled there around the 14th century BC. They were often in conflict with their Israelite neighbours to the west.
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