Tinshemet, Ḥorvat (Church of St. Bacchus)

By Uzi Dahari


A basilical church dedicated to St. Bacchus was discovered by Y. Porath in 1986 c. 300 m southwest of Ḥorvat Tinshemet (Sheikh ‘Ali Malikina, Khirbet esh-Shamiya), after the church had been accidentally damaged and a section of its mosaic pavement exposed. In 1995, a salvage excavation was conducted at the site by U. Dahari of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Ḥorvat Tinshemet was surveyed and identified by V. Guérin; following C. Clermont-Ganneau, it is suggested that Ḥorvat Tinshemet be identified with Betomelgezis, which appears on the Medeba map.


The church, 27 by 11.7 m, faces east. It is built of large, well-dressed ashlars of soft limestone. The structure consists of an atrium to its west, from which a flight of steps leads to the narthex, and a square hall with a nave, two aisles, and an apse. It was roofed with wooden beams and covered with ceramic roof tiles. Adjoining the church, north of the atrium, is a square compound with an olive-oil press, cistern, and entrance room leading to the church’s atrium. About 20 m northeast of the church is a rock-cut reservoir surrounded by three arcosolia tombs.

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