Experts say Zechariah's tomb was found in a new excavation

Looting leads to the excavation of an ancient church that may hold the prophet's grave.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 3, 2011 00:19
1 minute read.

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Israeli archeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean Hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

The Byzantine church, located southwest of Jerusalem and excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection.

The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries CE, said the dig's leader, Amir Ganor of the Antiquities Authority. He said the floor was one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years.

It is unique in its craftsmanship and level of preservation, he said. Archeologists began digging at the site, known as Hirbet Madras, in December. The Antiquities Authority discovered several months earlier that antiquities thieves had begun plundering the ruins, which sit on an uninhabited hill not far from an Israeli farming community.

Though an initial survey suggested the building was a synagogue, the excavation revealed stones carved with crosses, identifying it as a church.

The building had been built atop another structure around 500 years older, dating to Roman times, when scholars believe the settlement was inhabited by Jews.


Hewn into the rock underneath that structure is a network of tunnels that archeologists believe were used by Jewish rebels fighting Roman armies in the second century CE.

Stone steps lead down from the floor of the church to a small burial cave, which scholars suggest might have been venerated as the burial place of the prophet Zechariah.

Ganor said the church would remain covered until funding was obtained to open it as a tourist site.

Israel boasts an exceptionally high concentration of archaeological sites, including Crusader, Islamic, Byzantine, Roman, ancient Jewish and prehistoric ruins.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Anti-government protesters demonstrate on a street in central Ankara
June 16, 2013
Thousands take to streets of Istanbul, defy Erdogan

By REUTERS