By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS – June 17, 2015) — Archaeological excavations at the entrance to Abu Gosh related to the widening of the main highway linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, have uncovered a large Byzantine-period road station that included a church.
According to a news release from the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the site lies next to a seep spring known as “Ain Naqa”. located on the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa.
The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 m in length. The church includes a side chapel 6.5 m long and 3.5 m wide and a white mosaic floor. A baptismal font (bapisterium) in the form of a four-leafed clover (symbolizing the cross) was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner.
Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building showed that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes. To the west of the church were rooms that were probably used as dwelling quarters and for storage. One of them contained a large quantity of pottery tiles.
The release went on to say that the excavations yielded numerous different finds, testifying to intensive activity at the site. These included oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.
According to Annette Nagar, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The road station and its church were built in the Byzantine period beside the ancient road leading between Jerusalem and the coastal plain. Along this road, which was apparently already established in the Roman period, other settlements and road stations have previously been discovered that served those traveling the route in ancient times.
“Included in the services provided along the route were churches, such as the one recently uncovered at the entrance to Abu Gosh. Other churches have been recorded in the past in Abu Gosh, Qiryat Ye’arim, and Emmaus. This road station ceased to be used at the end of the Byzantine period, although the road beside which it was built was renewed and continued to be in use until modern times.”
CBN News says that the church and road station were part of a series of churches that served travelers on their way to Jerusalem.
Other churches discovered along this route include a church in Emmaus, the traditional site where according to the Gospel of Luke (24:13-28), Jesus appeared to two of his disciples.
“Scholars believe Emmaus was located where Motza stands today, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem, just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway,” added the CBN story.
The site will be covered over and preserved.
Photo captions: 1) The baptismal font. (Photo: Annette Nagar, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority}. 2. An oil lamp that was found in the excavation. (Photo: Assaf Preretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.) 3) Book cover of Dan Wooding’s latest book.
For more information, please contact S. “Scott” Feinerman | Director, Clergy & Travel Industry Relations, Professor of Tourism & Travel, Western Region USA, Israel Ministry of Tourism. T (323) 658-7463 ext. 2, firstname.lastname@example.org | www.GoIsrael.com
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is “Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary,” which you can read at: http://marythebook.com/.
Note: If you would like to help support the ASSIST News Service, please go to www.assistnews.net and click on the DONATE button to make you tax-deductible gift (in the US), which will help us continue to bring you these important stories. You can also make out a check to ASSIST and mail it to PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609, USA.
** You may republish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)