Archaeologists have discovered an intricate mosaic in the ruins of an ancient church which they say could be historic evidence of a Christian miracle. They believe it depicts the New Testament story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish.
The mosaic was discovered on the floor of a church in Hippos, on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel where the miracle is said to have taken place. It was discovered in the ‘Burnt Church’ in the ancient city, which was destroyed by fire in 700AD.
Despite the devastation to the building, its stunning mosaic-paved floor survived under layers of thick ash for centuries. Historians team from the University of Haifa, Israel, discovered the Burnt Church in 2005 but only began excavating its ruins this summer.
Head archaeologist Dr Michael Eisenburg said:
‘There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament.
‘For example, from the fact that the New Testament has a description of five loaves in a basket or the two fish depicted in the apse, as we find in the mosaic.’
He said the mosaic could prove to be evidence that the generally accepted location of the miracle is wrong. Michael said:
‘Nowadays, we tend to regard the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha on the north-west of the Sea of Galilee as the location of the miracle, but with careful reading of the New Testament it is evident that it might have taken place north of Hippos within the city’s region.
‘According to the scripture, after the miracle Jesus crossed the water to the northwest of the Sea of Galilee, to the area of Tabgha/Ginosar, so that the miracle had to take place at the place where he began the crossing rather than at the place he finished it.
‘In addition, the mosaic at the Church of Multiplication has a depiction of two fish and a basket with only four loaves, while in all places in the New Testament which tell of the miracle, there are five loaves of bread, as found in the mosaic in Hippos.
‘In addition, the mosaic at the burnt church has a depiction of 12 baskets, and the New Testament also describes the disciples who, at the end of the miracle, were left with 12 baskets of bread and fish. ‘
There is no doubt that the local community was well familiar with the two miracles of Feeding the Multitude and perhaps knew their estimated locations better than us.’
After centuries of falling into the hands of several empires and religious groups, Hippos was abandoned in around 600AD when an earthquake devastated the hilltop city. Further excavation of the church uncovered designs of a peacock and fish, as well as a pair of lion-shaped door knockers in bronze casting.
According to Haaretz.com, the mosaic will be preserved and is being documented in multiple ways, including drone photography. A 3D model of the church will eventually be made to help archaeologists iron out additional details they might have missed in their excavations.
Written by: Zoe Drewett
First published 19.09.19: https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/19/ancient-mosaic-showing-jesus-feeding-5000-found-church-ruins-10769648/
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