Biblical Archaeology Review 37:5, September/October 2011

Crossing the Holy Land

New church discoveries from the Biblical world

By Dorothy Resig

A few years ago the archaeological world, not to mention the popular press, was abuzz with news that an early Christian church had been discovered on the grounds of an Israeli prison at Megiddo. As BAR reported in an article by archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis, the structure featured mosaics with Christian symbols such as fish and, most exciting, a dedicatory inscription “to God Jesus Christ.”a Excavator Yotam Tepper of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Hebrew University paleographer Leah Di Segni dated the building to around 230 A.D., making it one of the earliest, if not the earliest, known churches and inscriptional references to Jesus. Even more recent excavations in Israel, Turkey and Egypt have produced amazing new church discoveries that are illuminating the early Christian communities at important sites, including Laodicea, one of the seven churches of Revelation, and Horvat Midras, which may be the hometown of the prophet Zechariah.

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