Ancient Christian Finds In Israel


Archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority have unearthed a building in the southern part of the country that they describe as a 1,500-year-old Christian church.

According to the archeologists, the Byzantine-era site at Moshav Aluma 30 miles south of Tel Aviv, which was found during salvage excavation before the planned construction of a new neighborhood, features a colorful mosaic with geometric designs and Greek inscriptions that indicate the presence of a flourishing Christian community.

The medallions on the mosaic floor depict various animals; there also are dedicatory inscriptions for men named Demetrios and Herakles, local church dignitaries.

The basilica, which measures about 22 yards by 12 yards, includes a cistern, a pottery workshop, cooking implements, oil lamps and central halls with a pair of side aisles divided by marble pillars.

It is the first-such Christian ruin discovered in the area that served as a large Byzantine settlement in the area near the Mediterranean coast. “The church probably served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities,” Daniel Varga of the antiquities authority told the website.

The area was near the main road that ran between the ancient port city of Ashkelon in the west and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem in the east.

Some haredi students from a nearby yeshiva, above, watch the archeologists at work.

The archeologists at the site also found traces of a later occupation of the church, including early Islamic walls and Ottoman-era garbage pits.