Descubren una iglesia bizantina a las afueras de Jerusalén

Foto: Mosaic includes a dedicatory inscription written in ancient Greek (Photo: Daniel Ein Mor, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority).

Un equipo de arqueólogos israelíes ha hallado una iglesia del período bizantino a las afueras de Jerusalén, con restos de mosaicos y una inscripción de varias líneas pidiendo la protección de Dios para miembros ilustres de la comunidad.

Vía: EFE, Jerusalén | Terra.com, 11 de marzo de 2009

***Galería Fotográfica (Terra.cl)

El descubrimiento tuvo lugar en la cooperativa rural de Ness Harim, a unos veinte kilómetros de Jerusalén, durante las obras de ampliación de viviendas para la población local, informó hoy la Dirección de Antigüedades de Israel.

El arqueólogo Daniel Mor, director de las excavaciones, afirma que "el lugar estaba rodeado por un bosquecillo y cubierto por terrazas agrícolas que eran trabajadas por la población".

"Antes de comenzar la excavación ya se podían distinguir en el lugar grandes cantidades de fragmentos de cerámica bizantina y trozos dispersos de un mosaico", agrega.

Las excavaciones han dejado al descubierto un pórtico alargado anterior a la principal nave de la iglesia, y en el suelo un colorido mosaico con formas geométricas separadas por flores que ha sido parcialmente destruido por vándalos hacia el final de las excavaciones.

El período bizantino comenzó en el siglo VI y en él proliferaron en Tierra Santa iglesias como la descubierta en Ness Harim que más tarde, con la invasión del Islam, serían destruidas o reconvertidas para distintos usos.

En el recinto han encontrado también una prensa, parcialmente excavada, en la que al parecer se producía vino en grandes cantidades.

En otra sala los arqueólogos hallaron un segundo mosaico con una inscripción de varias líneas en el que se hace alusión a personas ilustres de la comunidad y uno o más sacerdotes, para los que se pide la protección divina.


Byzantine period church exposed in Moshav Nes-Harim

Beautiful mosaics and a dedicatory inscription were uncovered in a church that dates to the Byzantine period.

(Communicated by the Israel Antiquities Authority)

A church that dates to the Byzantine period which is paved with breathtakingly beautiful mosaics and a dedicatory inscription was exposed in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting near Moshav Nes-Harim, 5 kilometers east of Bet Shemesh (at the site of Horvat A-Diri), in the wake of plans to enlarge the moshav.

According to archaeologist Daniel Ein Mor, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The site was surrounded by a small forest of oak trees and is covered with farming terraces that were cultivated by the residents of Nes-Harim. Prior to the excavation we discerned unusually large quantities of pottery sherds from the Byzantine period and thousands of mosaic tesserae that were scattered across the surface level."

The excavation seems to have revealed the very center of the site, which extends across an area of approximately 15 dunams, along the slope of a spur that descends toward Nahal Dolev.

During the first season of excavation (November 2008) the church's narthex (the broad entrance at the front of the church’s nave) was exposed in which there was a carpet of polychrome mosaics that was adorned with geometric patterns of intertwined rhomboids separated by flower bud motifs. Unfortunately, at the conclusion of the excavation this mosaic was defaced and almost completely destroyed by unknown vandals.

During that excavation season a complex wine press was partly exposed that consists of at least two upper treading floors and elongated, well-plastered arched cells below them that were probably meant to facilitate the preliminary fermentation there of the must. Part of the main work surface, which was paved with large coarse tesserae, was exposed at the foot of these cells. A complex wine press of this kind is indicative of a wine making industry at the site; this find is in keeping with the presence here of a church and is consistent with our knowledge about Byzantine monasteries in the region during this period (6th-7th centuries CE).

Other parts of the church were revealed in the current excavation season. The area of the apse was almost entirely exposed, as were other parts of the southern aisle.

Two rooms that are adjacent to the northern and southern sides of the church were also uncovered. In the southern room a mosaic pavement was exposed that is decorated with intertwined patterns of different size concentric circles. The mosaic also includes a dedicatory inscription written in ancient Greek that was deciphered by Dr. Leah Di Signi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem:

O Lord God of saint Theodorus, protect Antonius and Theodosia the illustres (illustres - a title used to distinguish high nobility in the Byzantine period) [- - - ] Theophylactus and John the priest (or priests). [Remember o Lord] Mary and John who have offe[red - - ] in the 6th indiction. Lord, have pity of Stephen.

Various phases that were used after the church was abandoned in the later part of the Byzantine period were discerned elsewhere in the structure. The mosaic floor was completely destroyed in different places and the area inside the church was put to secondary use. Industrial installations that are ascribed to the same phase were found which attest to the functional change the building underwent during the end of the Byzantine period-beginning of the Early Islamic period (7th century CE).

According to Daniel Ein Mor, "We know of other Byzantine churches and sites that are believed to be Byzantine monasteries, which are located in the surrounding region. The excavation at Nes-Harim supplements our knowledge about the nature of the Christian-Byzantine settlement in the rural areas between the main cities in this part of the country during the Byzantine period, among them Bet Guvrin, Emmaus and Jerusalem."

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