An important archaeological discovery of a Byzantine mosaic and Greek inscriptions, which perhaps pose more questions than answers, was made public by members of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
After three years of painstaking excavations, a Byzantine-era Christian church with spectacular, well-preserved mosaics and frescoes has finally been completely unearthed. The structure is located approximately ten miles west of the city of Jerusalem.
The fascinating, yet mysterious, findings include some Greek inscriptions as well.
Greek inscriptions, Byzantine mosaic unearthed in Israel
One of these says that the church was dedicated to a ”Glorious Martyr,” yet no inscription specifies exactly which martyr the inscription refers to.
No other evidence has so far been found anywhere on the site to suggest who this martyr may have been.
Archaeologists estimate that the church was actively used by pilgrims in approximately the year 600 AD. They also found an amazingly detailed inscription stating that the Byzantine Emperor Tiberius II Constantine had funded an expansion of the church.
Although it is still unknown to whom the church was dedicated, archaeologists believe that it must have been an important ecclesiastical figure, since this is the first time such a well-preserved monument from that period has ever been discovered in the area.
This is also the only Byzantine church in the region to be proven to have been funded by the Byzantine Emperor, which could mean the church had an extremely important role in Christianity at that time.
There have been many Greek inscriptions found in Israel, which was under Byzantine rule for a time, however.
Tombstone with Greek inscription found in Israel
A tombstone dating back to the Byzantine era featuring Greek inscriptions was found in Israel, and the discovery was made public last January.
The Byzantine tombstone is a unique circular shape and has an inscription in the Greek language. The message written on the tombstone reads ”blessed Maria, who lived an immaculate life.”
The fascinating discovery was made by Israeli Nitzana Educational Village director David Palmach in the Nitzana National Park in the Negev desert, in southern Israel.
Palmach stumbled upon the ancient artifact while he was cleaning a path in the desert park.
The Byzantine tombstone is believed to be from the 6th or early 7th century.
“During the fifth and sixth centuries CE, Nitzana served as a center for the villages and settlements in the vicinity,” the Israel Antiquities Authority noted in a statement.
Greek was widely spoken across the Mediterranean during those times, as it served as the lingua franca for the entire Eastern Roman Empire.