Ancient church unearthed beside road in Israel


A bird's eye view of the ancient church being excavated near Jerusalem.
SKYVIEW COMPANY, COURTESY OF THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

A new road project between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem has become an archaeological dig after the remains of a 1,500-year-old church were unearthed.

The new highway roughly follows the course of an accent road that would've been paved during the Roman period. The church, which dates from the Byzantine period, lies at what was probably a rest stop by a spring called 'Ain Naqa'a.

Elizabeth Goldbaum on Live Science has the details of the building.

The newly excavated church had a white mosaic floor measuring about 16 metres, with a side chapel 6.5 metres by 3.4 metres. A baptismal font ("baptisterium"), which is a fixture that can hold water for baptisms, sat in the chapel's northeast corner. It was in the shape of a four-leaf clover, reminiscent of the cross.

"Other settlements and road stations have previously been discovered that served those traveling the route in ancient times," Annette Nagar, the director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

"This road station ceased to be used at the end of the Byzantine period, although the road beside which it was built was renewed and continued to be in use until modern times."

Archaeologists also found fragments of red-colored plaster that could have come from frescoes on the walls of the church as well as oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments and mother-of-pearl shells.

  1. http://www.livescience.com/51160-ancient-church-excavated-in-israel.html
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