>A Christian Church on the Temple Mount?

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The Byzantine mosaic floor under the Aksa Mosque.
Photo: Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to a report published in The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli archaeologist Zachi Zweig has discovered the photo archives of R.W. Hamilton, the British archeologist who carried out the only archeological excavation ever undertaken at the Temple Mount’s Aksa Mosque. One of the photos shows a Byzantine mosaic floor underneath the mosque that probably was the remains of a church.

The excavation under the Aksa Mosque was carried out in the 1930s by R.W. Hamilton, who was the director of the British Mandate Antiquities Department, in coordination with the Wakf Islamic Trust that administers the compound. The excavation was carried out after several earthquakes badly damaged the mosque in 1927 and 1937.

According to the report, Hamilton discovered the Byzantine mosaic floor and beneath it a mikva (ritual bath) from the Second Temple period.

This finding is very important because it may indicate that the place where the Aksa Mosque is located was a holy place to Christians before it was a holy place to Moslems. And since the mikva was under the mosaic floor, the place was a special place to Jews before it was a special place to Christians and Moslems.

I just wonder how this new discovery will play the Islamic world.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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