John on December 4, 2006 at 11:09 am
Archaeologists in Israel have discovered one of the world’s oldest churches in the West Bank:
The site, emerging from the soil in the hills of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is richly decorated with brightly colored mosaics and inscriptions referring to Jesus Christ. The church dates to the late 4th century, making it one of Christianity’s first formal places of worship, said the team, led by Yitzhak Magen and Yevgeny Aharonovitch.
“I can’t say for sure at the moment that it’s the very first church, but it’s certainly one of the first,” Mr. Aharonovitch said yesterday as he supervised a team carrying out the final excavations before winter. He said the site contained an extremely unusual inscription that referred to itself, Shiloh, by name.
Here’s where Indiana Jones comes into it:
According to the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the two tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, was kept by the Israelites at Shiloh for several hundred years.
It was eventually moved to the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple that the Bible says King Solomon built around 1000 B.C. When the temple was sacked by the Babylonians 400 years later, the Ark was lost, prompting theories about whether it was hidden or destroyed.
The team at Shiloh is considering whether to dig under the mosaics that they have uncovered, in order to seek traces of the Ark.
The story ends by noting that the locals are encouraging the archaeologists to move the mosaics to museums so that they can keep digging beneath them. Sounds good to me. I just hope they don’t uncover a chamber full of snakes. I really hate it when that happens.
Update: Pic of the mosaics at the site:
Category: Archaeology |