Monday, November 07, 2005

Ancient church uncovered at Megiddo

xpansion plans for Megiddo Prison, until now known only as a main facility for security prisoners in the North, have unexpectedly yielded a major find for the Christian world and Israeli tourism: a structure believed by some archeologists to be the earliest church ever found.

The rare Christian religious structure, possibly the largest church ever found here according to reports, was found during an Israel Archeological Association (IAA) excavation at the site, discovered thanks to the help of, among others, 60 prisoners who worked on the dig.

Found on the floor of the structure was an inscription written in Greek dedicating the monument to the "Lord Jesus Christ". In addition to the dedication to Jesus, three other inscriptions were found on the mosaic floor.

One of them, the northernmost inscription on the mosaic, constituted a dedication to Gaianus, a military officer who contributed to the
construction of the mosaic floor from his own funds. Another, the easternmost inscription, memorialized four Greek women. The last of the inscriptions, on the western side of the mosaic recalled a certain god-loving "Afektos."

"Third to fourth century mosaics, including those with inscriptions, are very rare. This [finding] is a unique and important structure [and expands] our understanding of the early period of Christianity as a recognized and official religion," he continued.

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