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Archaeologists Uncover 1,500-Year-Old Christian Church During Israeli Construction Project


"...a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus..."

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Relics and religious structures often help fill historical gaps and inform archaeologists about the customs and practices of centuries past. Most recently, experts working in Israel unearthed the ruins of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church, complete with stunning mosaic designs.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the find this week after it was uncovered in Moshav Aluma, Israel, during construction of a new neighborhood. It is not uncommon for archaeologists to converge on construction areas to ensure that tidbits of history are not inadvertently destroyed.

After using an industrial digger, researchers noticed white tiles through a hole they dug, Live Science reported. That led them right to the church.

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While most Byzantine villages had houses of worship, Davida Eisenberg Degen, who excavated at the site, told the outlet that this particular church's location distinguishes it from other worship centers. Considering its central location near a main road, it likely served as a church that was used by a number of communities -- not just locals.

"An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide. The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars," archaeologist Dr. Daniel Varga explained in a press release announcing the find.

He continued: "At the front of the building is a wide open courtyard (atrium) paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern. Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall (narthex) with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; 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."

Archaeologists are still working at the site, but so far a mosaic, which contains a Christogram, a symbol that includes letters that form an abbreviation for the name of Christ, is among the most revered findings. It will be removed, conserved and displayed at a local museum.

There is not a cross on the mosaic floor, as Live Science noted that Byzantine Christians did not believe it was appropriate to step on Jesus' most noted symbol. The mosaic design resembles a cross, but it is actually a display of Greek lettering that references Jesus' name.

Find out more about the stunning find here.

(H/T: Live Science)

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