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Restored 5th-century church on Gaza Strip reveals rare ancient floor mosaics

J-P Mauro - published on 01/31/22

The church was dated to the reign of Emperor Theodosius II, of the 5th Century AD.

A Byzantine church discovered on the Gaza Strip in 1997 has reopened after a three-year restoration project. The site features numerous floor mosaics that date to the 5th century, which can now be seen in a video with a 360-degree view

The Site

According to a report from Greek City Times, the ruin was discovered during a routine repaving of Salah al-Din Regional Street in the Gaza Strip. The church features the Byzantine architecture associated with ancient Basilicas. The site includes three buildings which contain the floor mosaics: a church, a chapel, and a baptistery. 

The floor of the baptistery, about 800 square meters in area, is adorned with many ancient floor mosaics. The images depict animals, scenes of hunting, fruits and produce, and palm trees.

Gaza’s tourism ministry noted that the walls were once ornamented with religious texts, written in ancient Greek. These dated to the rule of Emperor Theodosius II, who ruled from 408 -450 AD. 

Excavation

The Times of Israel reports that the excavation and restoration work was commenced by the French organization Premiere Urgence Internationale (PUI) at a cost of almost $250,000. The agency has also constructed an elevated wooden viewing platform so visitors can see the ancient mosaics without stepping on them. 

Much of the site can be seen through an excellent video that features a 360-degree view, featured above. This technology has come a long way in the last few years. Where once users would have to inch their way forward and turn the camera at each stop, now they can move the camera freely throughout the tour. 

The video was released in conjunction with the grand re-opening of the site. At the unveiling, Archbishop Alexios of Tiberias noted that the monastic tradition in the Gaza strip began in the year 280 AD. The church is believed to have been one of the principle Christian churches in the region.

Tags:
ArchaeologyIsrael
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