Israel Church Found to be 1,500 Years Old

Israel Church

Lelik, flickr

Israeli archaeologists uncovered a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church Wednesday. Originally thought to be a synagogue, the presence of crosses signified the church's Christian heritage.

A well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks was also found at the site.

The floor was "one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years," Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority told the Associated Press. "It is unique in its craftsmanship and level of preservation."

The church is located at the site of Hirbet Madras, southwest of Jerusalem. Archaeologists had been working there since December, a few months after it was realized that thieves had been looting the ruins.

The Israeli church was likely in use between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D. However, beneath the structure was another building constructed centuries earlier during Roman times. It's believed that tunnels found under the church were used by Jewish rebels in their fight against the Romans in the second century A.D.

The site will remain covered until proper funding will allow it to be opened to tourists.

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