Photos: Ancient Cult Complex in Israel

A 3,300-year-old complex discovered at Tel Burna in Israel may have been used for cultic ceremonies, possibly to worship the Canaanite storm god, Baal, say the archaeologists who discovered it. Along with the large complex, the researchers also discovered various artifacts, including person-sized storage containers, facemasks and animal bones. Here's a look at what they found. (All photos courtesy of Professor Itzhaq Shai.) [Read full story on the ancient cult complex]


Among the discoveries at the ancient cult complex are two mask fragments that would have originally been worn on the human face. One of the facemask fragments is shown here.

Connected cups

At the site, the archaeologists also discovered three vessels joined together. The artifact appears to have been imported from Cyprus. archaeologists say. What exactly it was used for is a mystery, and research is underway to determine what the three connected vessels originally held.

Field stones

Excavations are ongoing at the cult complex. The foundations were made of field stones (shown here) and the superstructure (which has not survived) was probably made of mud bricks.

Giant complex

A view of part of the cult complex the archaeologists excavated. The courtyard alone measured 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters).

Animal sacrifice

Goblets, chalices and burnt animal bones were also discovered in the cult complex, evidence for ancient feasts and animal sacrifice, the archaeologists say.

Tel Burna

A map showing Tel Burna's location along with several other ancient sites.

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Owen Jarus
Live Science Contributor

Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Live Science who writes about archaeology and humans' past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), among others. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University.