About 200 pagan-cult artifacts, including small ritual stands pierced with mysterious holes (pictured), have been discovered in a rock hollow in northern Israel, archaeologists announced in early June.
The objects—about a hundred of them fully intact, including a cup sculpted with a human face, oil vessels, and various tableware—were found at the Tel Qashish site.
Many of the 3,500-year-old objects, such as the ritual stands, were likely used during idol worship in the local temple, according to Israel Antiquities Authority dig team members Edwin van den Brink and Uzi Ad.
"On top of these stands were placed either food offerings or incense for a pleasant scent during worship of the god or goddess in the temple," van den Brink said. "We don't yet know the reason for the [holes]."
The Tel Qashish site was destroyed during the Late Bronze Age (about 1550 to 1200 B.C.), and van den Brink suggested some artifacts had been buried for safekeeping before the violence.
—Mati Milstein in Tel Aviv, Israel