A 1,500-year-old Greek inscription bearing the name “Christ, born of Mary” was unearthed in northern Israel, the Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.
The archaeologists discovered the inscription engraved at the entrance of an impressive building from the Byzantine or early Islamic period, featuring mosaic pavements decorated with a geometric design.
The finding was unveiled in a salvage excavation directed by Tzachi Lang and Kojan Haku ahead of the construction of a road inside the village of Taiba in the Jezreel Valley.
“We did not know what to expect ahead of the work, but we knew that this was an area where archaeological remains had been found. When we came across the inscription, we knew we had a church,” Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the law in Israel, a salvage excavation must be conducted prior to any construction project. People from local communities are usually invited to take part in the projects, according to a consolidated policy by the IAA to foster interest in archaeology and the country’s heritage.
“The inscription greets those who enter and blesses them. It is therefore clear that the building is a church, and not a monastery – churches greeted believers at their entrance, while monasteries tended not to do this,” Di Segni commented in a press release.