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November 7, 2005

Holy Land's 'oldest church' found at Armageddon

Topics: Faith
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Israeli archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the oldest Christian church, with a mosaic floor containing geometric designs and an the early Christian symbol - the image of fish, in the land where Jesus was born.

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[This picture taken on Oct. 31, 2005 and released by the Israeli Antiquities Authority shows a mosaic with writing in ancient Greek with references to Christ, on the floor of the church(AP).]
MEGIDDO PRISON, Israel -- Israeli archaeologists working in a maximum-security prison just down the road from Armageddon have unearthed what they think is the oldest church to be discovered in the land where Jesus was born. "This is one of the most important finds of early Christianity," archaeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities told journalists on a tour of the excavation yesterday. Remains of the church, which archaeologists date to the mid-third or early fourth century, were found during a dig for artifacts before the planned construction of a new prison wing. The ruins of the church include a mosaic tile floor with inscriptions in ancient Greek containing a reference to "The God Jesus Christ" and could shed light on early Christian practices. The floor lies under a tarpaulin in the shadow of watchtowers, surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.

The prison is close to the plains of Armageddon, where the Book of Revelations says God will prevail over Satan in a fiery end-of-the-world battle.

"This is, in Israel for sure, the earliest church," said archaeologist Yotam Tepper, who heads the excavation.
He said archaeologists had previously discovered domestic prayer sites in the Holy Land that may be older than the ruins at the prison, but none that was classified as a church.

As he spoke, two inmates cleaned the mosaic designs with sponges.

The church was built in the style of a hall, and its mosaic floor contains geometric designs and an image of fish, an early Christian symbol.

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Hat tip - Maggie

Posted by Richard at November 7, 2005 9:03 AM



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