2,000-Year-Old Roman Basilica, the Largest in Israel, Discovered in Ashkelon
i24 News – The Israel Antiquities Authority recently unearthed a massive 2,000-year-old Roman basilica (public building), the largest in Israel, during excavations at Tel Ashkelon Park, the Nature and Parks Authority announced on Monday.
The archaeological dig was conducted as part of an extensive redevelopment effort in the national park, led by the Nature and Parks Authority, the Ashkelon municipality, and the Leon Levy Foundation.
The finds, which also include an ancient odeon (theater), were revealed to the public for the first time and will be open to visitors at the southern Israel site soon.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said that the basilica was first discovered in the 1920s by British archaeologist John Garstang, who covered it up. Work on the site did not start again until a few years ago.
According to Dr. Rachel Bar-Natan, Saar Ganor, and Fredrico Kobrin, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “the huge building is covered with a roof and divided into three parts — a central hall and two side halls. The hall was surrounded with rows of marble columns and capitals, which rose to an estimated height of 13 meters and supported the building’s roof. The floor and walls were built of marble.”
The excavation directors said that the basilica was built by Herod the Great, the Roman client king of Judea.
The structure suffered major damage in the earthquake that occurred in Israel in 363 CE.