1,500-Year-Old Church Discovered Along Israeli Highway
The Fellowship | June 10, 2015
During excavations to upgrade and widen the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, a large Byzantine-period road-side station was discovered. This 1,500-year-old site included a Christian church, and many artifacts from long-ago visitors were still there.
The site lies next to a seep spring known as ‘Ain Naqa’a, located on the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa. The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 m in length. The church includes a side chapel 6.5 m long and 3.5 m wide and a white mosaic floor. A baptismal font (bapisterium) in the form of a four-leafed clover (symbolizing the cross) was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner.
Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building showed that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes. To the west of the church were rooms that were probably used as dwelling quarters and for storage. One of them contained a large quantity of pottery tiles. The excavations yielded numerous different finds, testifying to intensive activity at the site. These included oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.