For centuries archaeologists have unearthed secrets hiding under our feet all around the world. The discoveries made by these experts bring insight to the past and sometimes even solve the world’s most ancient mysteries.
Recently, a discovery was made in Israel that many people believed pieced together a mythic biblical narrative. The experts couldn’t believe it: had they really found stone cold proof of one of Jesus’ most famous miracles?
No matter what you believe, Biblical stories are widely recognized. We’ve all heard of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark. Another particularly familiar set of stories include Jesus and the many miracles he performed within the pages of the New Testament.
Water to wine is certainly one of his greatest hits, but a recent discovery has shed some light on another famous miracle. The story involves Jesus creating food for thousands out of just two fish and five loaves of bread.
One of the things that separates believers from non-believers has to do with evidence. Some find it challenging to believe in something that relies on faith. With recent findings, however, that faith might not be so blind.
Our setting is the ancient city Hippos-Sussita. The city is vastly different than it was in the fourth century, as bustling streets have been replaced with miles and miles of excavations and dig sites.
With over seven churches in the city limits of this archaic holy land, archaeologists have had their hands full. However, only one of the seven churches piqued the interest of those working in the area. The South-West Church was different.
When Romans began to settle in Hippos during the second century, things really started to come together. The city boasted a basilica, a theater, and an odeon. Also, a very elaborate shrine to the emperor. Things were all wine and togas for awhile.
During the fourth century A.D., the Christians showed up. Away went the shrine to the emperor and up popped a crazy number of churches per capita. For over four centuries, Hippos was a center for Christianity.
Even when Muslim soldiers conquered the city, the Christians were still permitted to practice their religion. Unfortunately, in 749 A.D. the city was basically destroyed by a huge earthquake and was left abandoned for over 1,000 years.
Until our brilliant friends the archaeologists showed up and started sorting out a historical timeline from the myriad ruins strewn across the area. The 21st century ushered in large-scale excavation sites in the area, leading to some amazing discoveries.
One aspect that drew researchers so strongly to this particular church were the intricate mosaics preserved on its floors. Additionally, the church appears to have not fallen victim to the epic earthquake. It looks as though it was destroyed in a different way.
Fire seems to be the culprit for the destruction of the church, whether by accident or arson remains unclear. It turns out, the fire was a positive thing for modern day researchers.
Copious and suffocating amounts of ash covered the floor and, by extension, the mosaic. The ash allowed the decorative tiles to be surprisingly well-preserved even so many years later. This is extremely lucky, because the mosaic tiles tell some incredible stories.
In one odd observation, epigraphist Gregor Stabb saw that the Greek inscriptions where not grammatically correct. This led the team to believe Greek wasn’t the official language of the people that founded the church.
The experts believe the congregation may have used Aramaic as their native tongue. Meaning that the members of the church spoke the language associated with Jesus Christ. This would be even more important when they discovered one particular mosaic.