A Byzantine church dating to the 5th century AD was discovered this month along Highway 1 connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The site is situated near the Arab village of Abu Ghosh and the Messianic moshav of Yad Hashmonah.
According to archaeologists, the church was part of a rest stop on the route between Jerusalem and the coastal region. During the excavations, a chapel featuring a white mosaic and a small baptismal in the shape of a cross (pictured) was found. Red plaster chips scattered around the floor indicated frescoed walls.
Nearby living quarters and storage facilities contained ceramic tiles, beautifully-preserved oil lamps and other objects belonging to the church.
Annette Nagar, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, noted that this was the third church that had been discovered along this ancient route, the other two being located in Kiryat Ye’arim and Emmaus.
The church was discovered quite by accident during a major construction project to expand the highly-trafficked Highway 1. It again goes to show that no matter where you dig in Israel, you are certain to come face-to-face with history.