Possible Pre-Constantinian Church Discovered
Several news agencies have released an announcement, made by Israeli archaeologists last Saturday, that they have uncovered some remains of a Church which appears to have been in use during the late years of the R oman persecution. This is significant because it appears that this is the remains of one of the earliest Churches found. The remains of the Church were found during a dig for possible artifacts before the planned construction of a new prison wing for the maximum security prison at Megiddo . The discovery was actually made about eighteen months ago and about two weeks ago the mosaics were uncovered.
Two significant mosaics were uncovered under the ruins of a later Byzantine structure. One mosaic has a Greek inscription with the name of a man and four women who funded both it and the Holy Table that once stood on it. The inscription is in the form of a prayer asking the Lord Jesus Christ to remember the donors. The other is a mosaic of two fish. The fish was used widely in the Early Church as an ikonic symbol of our Lord. The Greek word for fish, ICQUS, is made up of the five initial letters of the phrase, Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour. The fish was also an ikonic symbol of the Creed and had a central position in the life of the early Church that was not free to proclaim its Creed.
It is possible that this Church, which was built in the style of a hall, was a House-Church. During the Roman Persecution, Christians would come together at the home of a prominent Christian, who had a room large enough to be a Church. It is also possible, however, that this Church was built during a time of calm. Christians faced varying levels of persecution under the Roman Empire , interspersed with periods of calm. It was during such a lull that the Church could have been built to serve a local Christian community.
For more information do a news search. You can view photos by going to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/hocna/ and clicking on Photos. A video, along with a news item is available at http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051106/sc_nm/mideast_church_dc .