Israeli archeologists uncover Byzantine-era church


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Byzantine-era church was uncovered during an archeological excavation near Beit Shemesh.

The excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority was conducted in the wake of plans to enlarge Moshav Nes-Harim.

The church, whose discovery was announced Tuesday by the authority, is paved with mosaics and a dedicatory inscription in Greek.

“The site was surrounded by a small forest of oak trees and is covered with farming terraces that were cultivated by the residents of Nes-Harim," said archeologist Daniel Ein Mor, the excavation director. "Prior to the excavation we discerned unusually large quantities of pottery shards from the Byzantine period and thousands of mosaic tesserae that were scattered across the surface level.

“We know of other Byzantine churches and sites that are believed to be Byzantine monasteries which are located in the surrounding region. The excavation at Nes-Harim supplements our knowledge about the nature of the Christian-Byzantine settlement in the rural areas between the main cities in this part of the country during the Byzantine period, among them Bet Guvrin, Emmaus and Jerusalem.”

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