An ancient road station and church was uncovered during a highway construction project which is next to a spring called “Ain Naqa’a”, at the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa, which is a settlement in Jerusalem. Archaeologists announced that the church believed to be 1500 years old discovered at a Byzantine period rest stop on the road that connects to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Prior to this finding, there have been discoveries of other settlements and road stations which served as a travelling route during ancient times likely paved during the Roman period, claims Annette Nagar, the excavation director on behalf of IAA (Israel Antiques Authority). However, by the end of the Byzantine period, this road was no longer used but the road built beside was renewed and continued to be used until today.

The feature of this 1500 year old uncovered Church
The church has a 52 feet white mosaic floor
Side chapel: 21 x 11 feet
Baptismal font in the shape of a four-leaf clover (fixture for holding water for baptism): Located at Church’s north-east corner. (Image below)

Fragments of red colored plaster found mixed in the rubble all over the building indicating that the church could have been decorated with frescoes.
Rooms: Located at west side possible for housing and storage. There were also pottery tiles in one room.

Artifacts found: Oil lamps, special glass, coins, mother of pearl shells and marble fragments suggests that the place could have been actively used.

This is not the first discovery…
Pablo Betzer, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s district archaeologist for Judah the findings of this site have been documented and will proceed with further studies. He says that when it comes to archaeology, Israel is archaeologically rich region. He also claims that this is not the first such discovery made here and points out four other discoveries made earlier as a result of construction project activities:

A 10 000 year old house was discovered during road widening project at Highway 38 point. It is considered one of the oldest dwellings. (Image below)

A Byzantine monastery near Bedouin village of Hura, Northern Negev Desert was discovered during a salvage excavation last year before the construction of an interchange on Southern Israel’s Highway 31. (Image below)

A 900 year old wealthy estate which came complete with a garden and mosaic fountain discovered during excavation ahead of the bridge construction along Israel’s Highway 44.

A Stone Age carving of a phallus (below) discovered during an expansion project at Highway 1, Israel
As for the fate of the discovered church, Betzer assured that a joint decision had been made with the National Roads Company to cover over the site and preserve it for future generation. The best part is that the National Roads Company took up the social responsibility to initiate and fund the excavation. Something you cannot expect from the IS terrorists.

Assaf Preretz
Ya’akov Vardi

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