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1,500-Year-Old Byzantine Church Discovered in West Jerusalem

1,500-Year-Old Byzantine Church Discovered in West Jerusalem

Thursday, 24 October, 2019 - 06:15
The mosaic church floor of an Eagle symbol of the Byzantine Empire in Beit Shemesh. AFP

Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church in West Jerusalem.

The church with stunning mosaics and glass windows was discovered ahead of building a new neighborhood in the town of Beit Shemesh.

Built according to the typical basilica plan, with a central nave flanked by two halls, the church was adorned with intricate mosaics depicting plants, birds, and geometrical designs, as well as colorful frescoes that lined the walls.

The complex, which spans over a third of an acre, has an underground burial chamber with two separate staircases leading to and from it.

This makes it one of the few churches with fully intact crypts to be found in Israel's limits, said Benjamin Storchan, who directed the excavation.

The church was dedicated to a "glorious martyr," whose identity has eluded the researchers working on the find for the past three years, but the "exceptional opulence of the structure and its inscriptions indicate that this person was an important figure," said Storchan.

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