1 500 Year Old Church

February 3, 2011 by staff 

1 500 Year Old Church, (AP) – Israeli archaeologists have presented a new church in 1500 years discovered in the Judean Hills, on Wednesday, including an exceptionally well-preserved floor mosaic with images of lions, foxes, fish and peaccks. The Byzantine church in the southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the past two months, will only be visible for another week before the archaeologists again covered with earth for his own protection.

The small church with a floor refined decor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries AD, said the head of the excavation, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority. He said the speech was “one of the most beautiful mosaics to be discovered in Israel in recent years.”

“It is unique in its expertise and level of preservation,” he said.

Archaeologists began digging at the site, known as Hirbet Madras in December. The Antiquities Authority has uncovered a few months earlier that the thieves had started looting antiquities from the ruins, which sit on a hill near a deserted Israeli community agriculture.

Although an initial investigation suggested the building was a synagogue, the search revealed stone carvings of crosses, identifying him as a church. The building had been built on top of another structure about 500 years older; Jews inhabited dating from Roman times, when researchers believe the settlement.

Carved into the rock beneath the structure is a network of tunnels that archaeologists believe were used by Jewish rebels fighting against the Roman armies in the second century AD

Stone steps lead down from the floor of the church in a small burial cave, suggest that researchers have been venerated as the burial place of the Old Testament prophet Zecharia.

Ganor said the church would remain covered until funding was obtained to open it as a tourist site.

Israel has an exceptional concentration of archaeological sites, including the Crusaders, Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, Jewish and prehistoric ruins.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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