1,500-year-old Byzantine church with impressive mosaic floor unearthed in southern Israel

The mosaic floor of a  1,500-year-old Byzantine church  unearthed in southern Israel. Credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

(JNS.org) An impressive 1,500 year-old church with elaborate mosaic floors was unearthed in southern Israel by archeologists, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

“An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, who directed the excavation activities for the IAA.

“The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. 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,” Varga said.

According to archeologists, the church probably served as a center for Christian worship for the region. It is part of a large and important Byzantine settlement that existed in the region 1,500 years ago on the road between Ashkelon and Jerusalem. 

Posted on January 22, 2014 .