Ancient Church of the Apostles believed found near Sea of Galilee

Archaeologists believe they may have stumbled upon a significant religious location in the Holy Land.

Kinneret College and the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins have been excavating the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee for a number of years as part of the El Araj Excavation Project (EAEP). Now, Dr. Mordechai Aviam thinks they may have stumbled across something big, CBN News reports.

The Church of the Apostles was believed to have been built over the home of Peter and Andrew, two of Jesus’ 12 disciples and among the first to follow Christ. It is believed to date back to the Byzantine period.

Located near the Jordan River estuary on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Aviam’s team has identified the Church of the Apostles, once visited by Willibald, a bishop from Bavaria, in 725 C.E. As he travelled around the Sea of Galilee, including areas mentioned in the Bible such as Capernaum, he passed through the place called Bethsaida where he saw the church.

mosaic floor church apostles
The mosaic floor, uncovered by archaeologists and believed to be from the ancient Church of the Apostles. (Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins)

Those working on the excavation say they’ve found tesserae, which are small glass block, from what was once a mosaic floor, as well as marble pieces and roof tiles in ancient Bethsaida. These pieces found led Aviam to belive a church could have been located in the area, but they couldn’t say for sure — until now.The mosaic floor, uncovered by archaeologists and believed to be from the ancient Church of the Apostles. (Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins)

Recently, the southern wall of the church and more intact flooring was found by excavators.

“Now we can clearly say that we have the church in hand,” the archaeologist said.

The team had been searching for the Church, as well as Bethsaida, an old Jewish fishing village. A document created by a Christian pilgrim which references the Church of the Apostles being located in Bethsaida pointed the team towards the area.

They first discovered homes from the Roman era.

“We discovered for the first time domestic structures – houses – from the Roman period,” Aviam shared. Using drones and ground machinery equipped with electromagnetic sensors, the whole area was found to be populated with more homes.

This finding comes after the discovery of a Roman bath and coins by Aviam and his team, further evidence of a prior Roman civilization.

Only the beginning, the team will continue to work on the site with plans to excavate the entirety of the church.

Main image copyright: (Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins)

Written by: Libby Giesbrecht

First published 18.08.19: https://chvnradio.com/christian-news/ancient-church-of-the-apostles-believed-found-near-sea-of-galilee

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