Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What a beautiful discovery of ancient faith!

You can see some lovely pictures of it at the site linked below.

Israel Church a Major Discovery
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
MEGIDDO PRISON, Israel — Israeli prisoner Ramil Razilo was removing rubble from the planned site of a new prison ward when his shovel uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic, unveiling what Israeli archaeologists said Sunday may be the Holy Land's oldest church.


The discovery of the church in the northern Israeli town of Megiddo, near the biblical Armageddon, was hailed by experts as an important discovery that could reveal details about the development of the early church in the region.

Archaeologists said the church dated from the third century, decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Roman Empire.


"What's clear today is that it's the oldest archaeological remains of a church in Israel, maybe even in the entire region. Whether in the entire world, it's still too early to say," said Yotam Tepper, the excavation's head archaeologist. (…)


Razilo, who is serving a two-year sentence for traffic violations, was one of about 50 prisoners brought into the high-security Megiddo Prison to help excavate the area before the construction of new wards for 1,200 Palestinian prisoners.


Razilo was shocked to uncover the edge of the mosaic. The inmates worked for months to uncover all the parts of the mosaic — the floor of the church, he said.

"We continued to look and slowly we found this whole beautiful thing," said Razilo, who used a sponge and a bucket of water to clean dirt off the uncovered mosaics Sunday.


Two mosaics inside the church — one covered with fish, an ancient Christian symbol that predates the cross — tell the story of a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory "of the god, Jesus Christ."


Pottery remnants from the third century, the style of Greek writing used in the inscriptions, ancient geometric patterns in the mosaics and the depiction of fish rather than the cross indicate that the church was no longer used by the fourth century, Tepper said. (…)


The inscription, which specifies that Aketous donated a table to the church, indicates the house of worship predated the Byzantine era, when Christians began using altars in place of tables in their rituals, Tepper said. Remnants of a table were uncovered between the two mosaics.


The building — most of which was destroyed — also was not built in the Basilica style that was standard under the Byzantines, he added. (…)


(The rest of the story here - with more pictures!!)

What moves me the most is to think that so many years ago, our brothers and sisters in Christ were here worshipping the same Savior we do! And we will meet them someday. What a legacy of faith through their beautiful artwork they have left behind for us!


Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard about that. What a beautiful mosaic. You're right--it is exciting to think about the ancient ones who are now part of the "cloud of witnesses."

(I notice in the article that they're suspicious of the dating--I wonder if perhaps the mosaics were originally secular, and converted to Christian use later. It'd be interesting to hear the "final" report on dating.)



Anonymous said...

I, too, found this to be just fascinating! Also curious about actual dates and meaning of symbols. I'll be showing this article to my boys tomorrow. It is nice to have a little glimpse into the life of those ancient brethren.

Amy (www.weathertopacademy4boys.blogspot.com)