Image: Ancient Mosaic in Byzantine Church
Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
A 1,500-year-old church complete with a sophisticated mosaic was uncovered by archaeologists in southern Israel.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) say the Byzantine-era structure “probably served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities.”
The discovery was made during a routine salvage excavation conducted by the IAA prior to the construction of a new neighborhood in the area.
The building is approximately 72 feet long by 40 feet wide and consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. An open courtyard at the front of the structure is paved with a white mosaic floor and a cistern.
Directly off of the courtyard is a rectangular hall with another more intricate mosaic floor with colored geometric designs.
Including among the finds are five inscriptions, one of which mentions Mary and Jesus.
“At its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic’s construction,” archaeologist Daniel Varga said in a press release.
The main hall has a mosaic with depictions of a variety of animals including zebra, leopard, turtle and wild boar. The designs also include Christian symbols.
You can read the news report in its entirety here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary