Israeli archaeologists have revealed an elaborately decorated Byzantine church dedicated to an anonymous martyr that was recently uncovered near Jerusalem.
The Israel Antiquities Authority showcased some of the finds from the nearly 1,500-year-old structure on Wednesday after three years of excavations. The findings will be exhibited at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum.
An inscription on a mosaic says the site was built in honor of a “glorious martyr.” The martyr is not identified, but other inscriptions commemorate the empire’s expansion under the sixth-century ruler Justinian and one of his successors, Tiberius II Constantine.
Because of the church’s size and rich trappings, researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority believe it was a popular pilgrimage site until it was abandoned during the Muslim Abbasid caliphate in the 9th century AD.
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