Archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the preeminent organization in the field of Israeli and Biblical Archaeology, excavated a rare 3rd - 4th century CE Christian structure that may be the oldest Christian church ever discovered in Israel. The excavations, at the Megiddo prison in northern Israel, were conducted with the help of more than 60 prisoners from both the Megiddo and the Tzalmon prisons.
Yotam Tepper, the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist who directed the excavation, reports that "the wording of the inscriptions, letter forms, finds and other epigraphical features date the structure to the 3rd - 4th centuries CE. Mosaics, in general, and inscribed mosaics in particular, from the 3rd and 4th centuries are extremely rare, as is the wording of the inscriptions. This structure is indeed unique and significant to the understanding of the development of early Christianity into a recognized and official religion." "This is one of the first references to Jesus on a mosaic," noted Tepper.
"A discovery of this kind will make Israel more interesting to all Christians, for the church all over the world," said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican envoy to Jerusalem. "If it's true that the church and the beautiful mosaics are from the third century, it would be one of the most ancient churches in the Middle East.''
The following website address will enable you to view a short interview with archbishop Pietro Sambi Ambassador of the Vatican to the Holy Land.
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