Category Archives: ISRAEL

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

Incredible 1,500-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread is uncovered at a church near the Sea of Galilee

In the ancient city of Hippos, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, an image of Jesus ‘ miracle might have been discovered. There stand the ruins of an old church that was burned down long ago. 

Completed either in the later part of the 5th century or early in the 6th century, the building was probably burnt up in the 7th century, as Fox News states when the city was invaded by the Sassanian Empire.

The longer men have lived in an area, the more common it is to find the remnants older civilizations and times, and Israel has been populated for millennia. 

What makes this particular church interesting, however, is what archaeologists recently found under the rubble and ash.

The church’s floor boasts a colorful mosaic containing inscriptions and images of baskets containing loaves and fishes, which experts believe may depict Jesus’s miracle of the ‘feeding of the 5,000’.

Site of Hippos in Israel.
Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)—The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes—c.1620

A spokesperson for the University of Haifa, who has been involved in the excavation, remarked in a statement that when the roof of the church was burning, inches of ash fell to the floor, covering and preserving the mosaic from the elements for the next 1,500 years.

The mosaic depicts baskets of birds, fruit, and fish, and is thought to be referring to the miracle described in the bible, in Matthew 14:13-21, in which Jesus is said to have broken up five loaves and three fishes and used them to feed the multitudes.

A fire destroyed the fifth-century church in 700AD but the mosaic-paved floor has been remarkably preserved throughout the centuries by a layer of ash

Michael Eisenberg, Ph.D., is the head of the Haifa University team doing the excavation and said while there were certainly other possible explanations for the imagery found in the mosaic, it was hard to ignore the close parallels between it and the story in the New Testament. 

He also allowed that there are some differences, as well.  Some of the baskets in the mosaic are holding fruit, for example, and some others hold three fish, rather than two, as is described in the bible.

A 2,000-year-old mosaic depicting Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand has been unearthed during an excavation of an ancient city near the Sea of Galilee

Eisenberg’s statement also talks about the implications of the find. He notes that, although the bible doesn’t give the exact location for where the event was supposed to have occurred, only calling it ‘a remote place’, it’s generally believed by religious scholars to have happened near the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha, on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee, according to Live Science. 

However, that somewhat vague biblical description could also be applied to the area north of Hippos, where the Burnt Church is located, as well.

The church is situated at the western edge of Mount Sussita, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and the Jesus ministry, where most of his miracles are said to have happened.

Eisenberg suggests that the locals would have been familiar with the miracles when they occurred, and would have a much better idea about the locations involved than modern scholars would.

That would suggest that the mosaic was commissioned by someone who wanted to ‘create an affinity’ with a miracle that occurred nearby.

Hippos is located on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, so if Eisenberg’s suppositions are true, then religious scholars may have been completely wrong about where the event is supposed to have happened.

He further said that he believes that Jesus performed the miracle on the east side of the Sea, before walking across the water to the northwestern shore, which is the area where the Church of the Multiplication is located. 

That church also has a mosaic whose imagery makes reference to the same miracle, although it shows two fish and only four loaves of bread, not five, meaning that the mosaic in the Burnt Church correlates more closely to the story in the New Testament.

The newly-uncovered mosaic also has some variation from the biblical description, however, so the team’s speculations will have to remain speculations, at least for now. 

All the same, the mosaic may offer scholars new avenues of thought and inquiry as they attempt to piece together the place where faith and history come together.

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified.

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified. 

In accordance with Luke’s Gospel. Following the crucifixion of Jesus, two of his disciples went to Emmaus, and a stranger walked by them on their way to the village, asked them what had just happened in Jerusalem.

The stranger disclosed that he was Jesus in this biblical story only when they reached Emmaus and stopped for supper.

Two archeologists suggest that an archeological site known as the Kiriath-jearim might be the Emmaus in a document released in the sequence “New Studies of Archeology of Jerusalem and its Region.”

The location of Emmaus has long been a topic of debate, with a few different sites proposed in the past. 

While biblical scholars generally agree that Jesus was a real person, they’ve long debated which stories in the Bible actually occurred and which ones did not. The story of Jesus reappearing at Emmaus may have never happened. 

The Shmunis Family Excavations at Kiriath-jearim

Complicated proposal

Several clues point to Kiriath-jearim being Emmaus. For instance, the Gospel of Luke says Emmaus is “60 stadia” from Jerusalem, a distance about equal to the 8 miles (13 kilometers) that separates Kiriath-jearim from the Old City of Jerusalem, wrote Israel Finkelstein, professor emeritus at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Thomas Römer, a professor of biblical studies at Collège de France, in the forthcoming article.

Recent excavations at Kiriath-jearim have also uncovered a series of fortifications that were renovated during the first half of the second century B.C., and according to the Book of Maccabees, the Seleucid Empire (an empire ruled by the descendants of one of Alexander the Great’s generals) controlled much of the region, fortifying several sites, including Emmaus. 

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that were mentioned as being fortified at that time.

The researchers can’t be completely certain that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus and not another site fortified by the Seleucids.

But the fact that the site is located 60 stadia from Jerusalem supports the proposal. Additionally, the other sites mentioned in the Book of Maccabees that the Seleucids fortified don’t appear to match up well with Kiriath-jearim.

Adding more evidence for the proposal, pottery found at Kiriath-jearim suggests that the site was inhabited around the time that Jesus is said to have lived. This means there would have been an active village at the site for Jesus’ disciples to visit and where Jesus could have appeared. 

Problems with identification

There are, however, problems with the idea that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus, the researchers wrote. For instance, there doesn’t seem to be any linguistic connection between the names Kiriath-jearim and Emmaus, the researchers noted. Also, other sites do have at least tenuous links to Emmaus: A fourth-century historian named Eusebius wrote in his book “Onomasticon” that Nicopolis is Emmaus. 

Other sites also have potential. For instance, Josephus, a historian who lived during the first century, wrote that retired Roman soldiers settled at Emmaus, which he claimed was only 30 stadia from Jerusalem, at a site located near Qaluniya (a village that was not abandoned until 1948). 

Finkelstein and Römer are co-directors of excavations at Kiriath-jearim. After their paper is published, scholars not affiliated with the research project will be able to evaluate the proposal’s evidence. 

Archaeologists claim 2,200-year-old ruins in Israel could be the remains of the biblical town Emmaus where Jesus travelled after his resurrection

Archaeologists claim 2,200-year-old ruins in Israel could be the remains of the biblical town Emmaus where Jesus travelled after his resurrection

In Israel, archeologists claimed to have found the Actual location of the biblical town of Emmaus, where Jesus first appeared to two followers after being crucified and resurrected.

Researchers have uncovered the remains of a 2200-year-old fortification at Kiriat-Jearim, a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a town near Jerusalem.

It is believed that the massive wall of the Hellenistic forts was built by the Seleucid general who defeated Judah the Maccabee, the Jewish leader has spoken of in the Hanukkah story.

Archaeologists believe that the remains of a 2,200-year-old fortification at Kiriath-Jearim (pictured), a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a village near Jerusalem, prove that the hill and village are the biblical towns of Emmaus
Emmaus is significant in Christianity as Jesus appeared to two of his apostles on the road to the town after his crucifixion and resurrection

Tel Aviv University professor Israel Finkelstein, who leads the archaeologist project with Thomas Romer and Christophe Nicolle of the College de France, now claims that the hill and village should be identified as Emmaus.  

In Christianity, Emmaus is significant as Jesus appeared to two of his apostles on the road to the town after his crucifixion and resurrection. 

In Luke 24:13-35, the town is described as being fortified and about seven miles west of Jerusalem. 

This matches the location of Kiriath-Jearim, Abu Ghosh and Jerusalem, as well as the distance between them. 

However, Benjamin Isaac, emeritus professor of ancient history from Tel Aviv University, warned that there are at least two other sites nearby which also have strong claims to be Emmaus.

He said: ‘Finkelstein and Römer have a good case archaeologically, geographically, and topographically.

‘However, it is a hypothesis and remains a hypothesis.’ 

Kiriath-Jearim is also described in the Bible as one of the places where the Ark of the Covenant stood before King David took it to Jerusalem.  According to the Bible, Moses had the Ark of the Covenant built to hold the Ten Commandments. 

Judah the Maccabee, a priest who led a Jewish revolt against the Seleucid empire, was defeated and killed at Kiriath-Jearim in 160 BC by the Seleucid army led by general Bacchides. 

Tel Aviv University professor Israel Finkelstein claims that the hill and village the project is working on should be identified as Emmaus

Bacchides fortified the towns surrounding Jerusalem with large walls, including the biblical town of Emmaus. Archaeologists believe they have found the walls built to fortify Emmaus. 

Describing the site, Finkelstein told Haaretz: ‘The importance of this site, its dominant position over Jerusalem, was felt again and again through time: in the eighth century B.C.E., and then again in the Hellenistic period and then again after the First Jewish Revolt and the sack of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.’

The latest research, including the claims about Emmaus, are detailed in a forthcoming paper published in the journal ‘New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region.’

In Luke 24:13-35, the town is described as being fortified and about seven miles west of Jerusalem. This matches the location of Kiriath-Jearim, Abu Ghosh and Jerusalem, as well as the distance between them

The project at Kiriath-Jearinm is being run by Tel Aviv University and the College de France. It is being supported by the Shmunis family from San Francisco. 

Finkelstein told Fox News: ‘The finds at Kiriath-Jearim hint at its long-term role as guarding the approach to Jerusalem.

‘The Hellenistic and Roman period remains shed light on the much-debated issue of the location of the New Testament’s Emmaus.’

Romer added: ‘Geographically I think that the distance to Jerusalem fits well, so I do think that Kiriath Yearim could have been the Emmaus of the New Testament.’ 

Scientists have found that the tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than people thought

Scientists have found that the tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than people thought

The shrine (sometimes called the Edicule) that holds the tomb of Jesus is seen in this photograph. The shrine is located within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Scientific studies indicate that a tomb that, according to legend, held Jesus Christ’s body dates back nearly 1,700 years.

It is unknown whether the tomb ever really kept Jesus ‘ body. The limestone bed dates back to nearly 300 years after Jesus ‘ death. In addition, several other sites claim to hold the “tomb of Jesus.”

Jesus ‘ tomb is covered by a shrine (sometimes called the Edicule) in Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulcher Church.

According to legend, Helena, the mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great (reign ca. 306-337), discovered the tomb around the year 327.

Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire and supposedly converted to Christianity before he died.

The legend says the Romans protected the tomb of Jesus by building a shrine over it as well as a church.

This church has been destroyed, renovated and rebuilt several times over the past 1,700 years.

Today, the shrine that covers the tomb is in poor shape and is in danger of collapse. To help save it, a team that includes scientists supported by the National Geographic Society has been conducting conservation work in the shrine and its tomb.

During this work, the archaeologists opened the tomb of Jesus for the first time in centuries — it has been sealed with marble slabs since at least A.D. 1555 to prevent damage from visitors — and excavated the tomb.

They found the remains of what appears to be a limestone bed that, as legend says, may have held the body of Jesus.

Tests using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) of mortar from the limestone bed revealed when the quartz within the masonry was last exposed to light.

Candles placed on top of the tomb after its restoration.

The results showed that the bed was constructed around A.D. 345, during or shortly after the reign of Constantine the Great. The test results were released by the National Geographic Society.

“Obviously, that date is spot-on for whatever Constantine did,” archaeologist Martin Biddle, who has studied the tomb extensively, told National Geographic.

Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a site of pilgrimage for Christians.

A study reporting the test results will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. When the conservation work is complete, scientists hope that the marble cladding that hid the tomb will be replaced with a material that will allow visitors to see inside the tomb.

A ‘game-changer’: Vast, developed 9,000-year-old settlement found near Jerusalem

9,000-Year-Old City Just Unearthed Near Jerusalem Is A ‘Game Changer’ For Archaeologists.

A ‘game changer’: Vast, developed 9,000-year-old settlement found near Jerusalem
The excavation uncovered large buildings, alleyways, burial plots, and countless artifacts like arrowheads and beads.

An archeologist excavation project in Motza near Jerusalem has uncovered an extensive 9,000-year-old settlement called “a game-changer.” The site was saved when builders surveyed it before their planned construction of a highway, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Neolithic settlement predates Britain’s Stonehenge monument, during which time “more and more” human populations transitioned from continuous migration to more permanent communities.

Co-director of the Motza excavations, Jacob Vardi, claimed the knowledge gathered from this discovery gives archaeologists their “Big Bang” moment regarding this particular stage of human history.

“It’s a game-changer, a site that will drastically shift what we know about the Neolithic era,” said Vardi. The research team estimated a population between 2,000 and 3,000 people once lived in the settlement — “an order of magnitude that parallels a present-day city,” the team said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority asked to survey the area before a highway was built atop, which is when this priceless settlement was discovered.

Spanning dozens of acres, the town sits about three miles northwest of the center of Jerusalem. According to The Times Of Israel, most experts thought the area was uninhabited during this particular prehistoric period — until just recently.

“So far, it was believed that the Judea area was empty and that sites of that size existed only on the other bank of the Jordan river, or in the Northern Levant,” a joint statement by Vardi and archaeologist Hamoudi Khalaily read.

“Instead of an uninhabited area from that period, we have found a complex site, where varied economic means of subsistence existed, and all these only several dozens of centimeters below the surface.”

Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily (left) and Dr. Jacob Vardi (right) at the Motza site. The team plans on publishing several papers on the discovery for the public and installing some of the artifacts in museums.

For Lauren Davis, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, the site is a wealth of contextual data — and one that will reap priceless rewards yet unknown.

“This is most probably the largest excavation of this time period in the Middle East, which will allow the research to advance leaps and bounds ahead of where we are today, just by the amount of material that we are able to save and preserve from this site,” she said.

In terms of the actual remnants and excavated artifacts produced by the dig, the team exposed sizable buildings, alleys, burial plots, and evidence of fairly sophisticated urban planning. The team also found storage sheds that held miraculously well-preserved lentil seeds and legumes.

“This finding is evidence of intensive practice of agriculture,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Thousands of these arrowheads, as well as a collection of flint tools, axes, sickle blades, and knives, were discovered at the site.

Thousands of arrowheads, a collection of flint tools, axes, sickle blades, and knives were discovered at Motza, as well. Alongside evidence of domesticated animals, the uncovered artifacts indicated a people in transition — teetering between hunter-gatherer and agricultural lifestyles.

“Animal bones found on the site show that the settlement’s residents became increasingly specialized in sheep-keeping, while the use of hunting for survival gradually decreased,” the organization said.

The ancient people of Motza also kept domesticated goats, which researchers theorized were traded with people in Turkey, Jordan, and around the Red Sea. Signs of cow and pig farming were found, too, while the animal remains showed these people hunted gazelle, deer, wolves, and foxes.

The unexpectedly large buildings uncovered in this dig included areas for rituals, with some even containing plaster floors. The alleyways between structures denoted an advanced level of city design for the time, which was another welcome surprise for the excavation team.

A 9,000-year-old figurine in the shape of an ox was recovered at Motza, among countless other evidence of a domesticated culture.

As might be expected in the discovery of an ancient community’s settlement, evidence of human burials — replete with offerings postulated to accompany the dead into the afterlife — were found, as well. Some of these goods, like obsidian beads, came from Turkey, while others, like some seashells, came from the Red Sea many miles away.

“Based on the data that we have and from the fauna, we have a pretty good notion that the people at the site were farmers and they were specialists in what they did,” said Vardi, adding that it was clear why this area was so desirable.

The Motza site — which is about 30 to 40 hectares big, or one-tenth of a square mile — is near a large spring of freshwater, with a few smaller ones scattered about nearby.

As it stands, the excavation project is far from finished. The team plans on publishing numerous research papers and articles for the public on its website, while some of the priceless artifacts are installed in yet-to-be identified museums.

In other words, at some point, you’ll hopefully be able to see the 9,000-year-old things you’ve just read about for yourself.