Byzantine Period Church Uncovered in Jericho
i24 News – Israel’s Civil Administration Archeology Unit in the West Bank uncovered an ancient church with magnificent mosaic floors in the Jericho area.
The unearthed church is roughly 2690 square feet and was built in the Byzantine period, probably during the sixth century AD; it remained functional during the early Muslim period as well and was likely one of the largest churches in the region.
Most notable is the church floor, which has been preserved almost entirely, revealing a spectacular mosaic carpet decorated with a pattern of vine braids developing into medallions bearing figures of animals. Despite the Muslim rule – which forbids depictions of figures in public spaces – the phenomenon of “iconoclasm,” or the defacement of images that violate Islam, was not seen on the church floors.
Unlike the churches and monasteries destroyed in the earthquake that impacted the Levant in January of 749 AD, the church was abandoned several years before, and its doors were deliberately blocked.
Additional findings in the church seem to be made from materials not found in the area that required a lot of effort to transport, including marble columns and lattice parts made of asphalt.
Archeology staff officer in the Civil Administration, Hanania Hizami, stated: “I am excited and welcome the historic and amazing discovery, which joins a number of discoveries that the Civil Administration Archeology Unit uncovered.”
He continued, “We will continue to work for the discovery and preservation of the history of Judea and Samaria,” using the biblical name for the West Bank.