Israeli Archaeologists Uncover Byzantine-era Church
JERUSALEM, Israel -- Just outside Jerusalem, a team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists uncovered the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine-era church.
Contractors discovered the church while widening the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
IAA archaeologists said the church was part of a larger complex, which also served as a road station for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem.
"The location of the church is not accidental," the IAA's Annette Nagar said.
"On the one hand it's built beneath a water spring, which in Arabic is called 'anaka.' And on the other side, it's built on one of the ancient roads leading from Jerusalem, between Jerusalem and the coast," Nagar explained.
"This was a road station, which besides giving services of food and drink, it also gave religious services," she said.
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.