Ruins of ancient church discovered

A 1,500-year-old church with elaborate mosaic floors was unearthed in southern Israel by archaeologists, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Ancient mosaic floor uncovered photo/courtesy israel antiquities authority

“An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site,” which is approximately 72 feet by 12 feet, said 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 paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern.

“Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; at its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a 12-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. —