1,500-year-old church discovered near Jerusalem

Jerusalem, June 10 (IANS) A 1,500-year-old church from the Byzantine era was unexpectedly discovered during the course of works to widen a highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel officials said on Wednesday.

Located at the entrance to Abu Gosh, an Arab village 13 km west of Jerusalem, the church dimensions are about 16 metres in length including a side chapel 6.5 metres long and 3.5 metres wide along with a white mosaic floor, Xinhua reported.

A baptismal font in the form of a four-leaved clover, symbolising the cross, exists in the chapel’s northeast corner, according to the Israeli Antiquities Authority.

Fragments of red-coloured plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building indicate that the church walls were decorated with frescoes.

Archaeologists believe the site witnessed intense activity, as inferred from the plethora of findings which include oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments and mother-of-pearl shells.

The ancient church was built inside a road station by a remote road leading to Jerusalem and the coastal plain. Now, Highway 1, connecting Jerusalem and Israel’s financial capital Tel Aviv, stands by the site.

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