Archaeology Magazine

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Christian Mosaics Unearthed in Byzantine Basilica

Thursday, January 23, 2014

(Yoli Shwartz, Dr. Davida Dagan. Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)TEL AVIV, ISRAEL—Salvage excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority ahead of a construction project in the village of Moshav Aluma have uncovered the ruins of a 1,500-year-old basilica with mosaic floors. The large church was situated near a main road that connected Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast and Jerusalem, so it probably served as a center of Christian worship—one of the mosaics features a Christogram, an image made up of symbols that is surrounded by birds. Another section of mosaic contains the names ‘Mary’ and ‘Jesus’ as part of a dedicatory inscription written in Greek. The excavation also uncovered Byzantine glass vessels and a pottery workshop; early Islamic walls; and Ottoman garbage pits.