(JNS.org) Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a rare 1,500-year-old Byzantine-era Christian mosaic near Jerusalem’s Old City, the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.
The mosaic includes a Greek inscription citing the 6th-century Byzantine emperor Justinian as well as a reference to Constantine, who served as an abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem.
“The most pious Roman emperor Flavius Justinian and the most God-loving priest and abbot, Constantine, erected the building in which [this mosaic] sat during the 14th indiction,” the mosaic reads.
According to the IAA, the building was likely used as a hostel for Christian pilgrims during Justinian’s reign.
“The emperor was one the most important rulers of the Byzantine period, and was one of the most colorful and charismatic rulers of antiquity,” said David Gellman, the director of the excavation.
Gellman said that it was a “miracle” that the mosaic survived through the centuries.
“We were about to close the excavation, when all of a sudden, a corner of the mosaic inscription peeked out between the pipes and cables,” said Gellman in a statement. “Amazingly, it had not been damaged.”