Archaeologists have discovered a 1,500-year-old church in Israel dedicated to an unknown martyr who had a mosaic of erased animals. Large churches have a Greek inscription that says it was dedicated to the “Glorious Martyr,” but it does not say who this martyr is.
When the church was built Byzantine Empire The inscription on the church, which ruled Israel, states that the church was expanded during the reign of Emperor Flaviviridae, who ruled between 578 and 582. Israel and its surrounding areas were conquered by the Islamic Orthodox Caliphs between 634 and 638. Archaeologists have discovered that Islam in the area where the church prospered, and that it was not abandoned until the 10th century.
The church was discovered during an archaeological excavation conducted in 2017, before construction took place in the area. Located in the Jewish hills about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Jerusalem, Beniyamin Stochan, an archaeologist at the Israeli Ancient Ruins Bureau, who led the archaeological excavation at the church, wrote in the fall edition of the magazine Bible Archaeological Review. I am writing in the published article. .. Storchan named the building “Glorious Martyr’s Church”.
“In its early stages [in the fifth century] The glorious martyr’s church consisted of a simple and unobtrusive chapel inside a cave room, “Stochan wrote in an article. A room to the tomb that may have held the remains of an unknown martyr.
The church bears the scars of ancient iconoclasm — the deliberate destruction of certain artifacts and images. Archaeologists have discovered that some of the mosaics were originally decorated with animal-shaped (animal-like) images, but these were intentionally erased. The mosaic was “stained by the destruction of ancient idols, replacing the animal-shaped shape with a random tessera. [mosaic tiles or stones] To blur the original design, “Storchan wrote in the article.
“I believe that the iconoclasm in the glorious martyr church took place in the 6th century,” Stochan told Live Science in an email, which was a “internal reform of Christianity” or a change in rules. He said it was likely done for. However, the iconoclasm destroyed the animal-shaped image, but left the image of the other animal. “This can be seen as the floor of the chapel. [depicted] Many birds were unharmed and dated to the late 6th century. ”
Who is the martyr?
Archaeologists do not know the identity of the martyr, but one possibility is that it was dedicated to a man called Zekaria, the name used several times in the Bible. According to ancient records, the tomb of the Christian martyr of that name was found near the 5th century, and according to the text, there is a shrine dedicated to Zakaria near the excavation site, which may be the shrine. there is. However, even if the church was dedicated to Zekaria, the surviving texts do not reveal which Zecaria it was.
The book of Zechariah is the common name of the Bible, and Stochan wrote in the article. The book of Zechariah states that it may also be the name of an unknown religious person not mentioned in the Bible.
After all, archaeologists are not even convinced that the church was dedicated to a martyr named Zekaria.
“But we hope that ongoing research of the thousands of relics found during the excavation will reveal new and important clues to the identity of the mysterious glorious martyr.” Chan writes in the article.
Originally published in Live Science.
Byzantine church dedicated to an unknown martyr excavated in Israel
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