1,400-year-old Byzantine church, mosaic found near Jerusalem

The impressive mosaics found in the church depict birds and plants, but there is no icon of the martyr to whom the church was dedicated. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

An important archaeological find of a Byzantine mosaic and Greek inscriptions, which perhaps pose more questions than answers, has been made public by members of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

After three years of careful excavation, a Byzantine-era Christian church with spectacular and well-preserved mosaics and frescoes has finally been completely unearthed. The structure is located approximately ten miles west of the city of Jerusalem.

The fascinating, yet mysterious, finds also include Greek inscriptions.

Greek inscriptions, Byzantine mosaic discovered in Israel

Grecian Delight supports Greece

One of them says that the church was dedicated to a “glorious martyr,” but no inscription specifies exactly which martyr the inscription refers to.

So far, no other evidence has been found at the site to suggest who this martyr may have been.

Archaeologists believe that the church was actively used by pilgrims around AD 600. They also found a surprisingly detailed inscription indicating that Byzantine Emperor Tiberius II Constantine had funded an expansion of the church.

Although it is still not known to whom the church was dedicated, archaeologists believe it was an important ecclesiastical figure, as it is the first time that such a well-preserved monument from this period has been discovered in the region.

It is also the only Byzantine church in the region to have been funded by the Byzantine emperor, which could mean that the church had an extremely important role in Christianity during this time.

There have been many Greek inscriptions found in Israel, which however was under Byzantine rule for some time.

Gravestone with Greek inscription found in Israel

A Byzantine-era gravestone with Greek inscriptions was found in Israel, and the find was made public last January.

The Byzantine tombstone is a unique circular shape and has an inscription in the Greek language. The message written on the tombstone reads: “Blessed Maria, who lived an immaculate life”.

The fascinating discovery was made by the director of the Israeli educational village Nitzana, David Palmach, in Nitzana National Park, in the Negev Desert, in southern Israel.

Palmach stumbled upon the ancient artifact while clearing a path in the Desert Park.

The Byzantine tombstone is believed to date from the 6th or early 7th century.

“During the fifth and sixth centuries CE, Nitzana served as a center for nearby villages and settlements,” the Israel Antiquities Authority noted in a statement.

Greek was widely spoken across the Mediterranean at this time, as it served as the lingua franca throughout the Eastern Roman Empire.


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