Israeli and U.S. archaeologists have discovered two 1,300-year-old Greek inscriptions among the remains of an ancient church in northeastern Israel, Kinneret Academic College (KAC) said on Saturday.
The inscriptions were found by archaeologists from KAC in northeastern Israel and Nyack College in New York City.
The inscriptions mention a renovation of the church and a dedication to the the Bavarian bishop Willibald, proving that the site was the major Church of the Apostles at Bethsaida.
The church was mentioned in 724 AD by Willibald, who traveled on pilgrimage to the holy sites in the area, visited Bethsaida and saw the church.
The large basilica church, about 432 square meters in size, was unearthed by the same team in 2019 on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The church was built during the Byzantine period, around 500 AD, and destroyed in 749 during the Muslim period, in a strong earthquake that struck the region.
Surprisingly, although the outer church walls were preserved to a height of about 1 meter, not a single opening was identified.
It is possible that a sugar factory was erected on the church’s wall in the Middle Ages, so the interior area was filled with dirt containing many fragments of sugar vessels, inadvertently burying the entire church, the researchers said.
It is also possible that the remains of the church were intentionally enclosed by a wall after it was destroyed in the earthquake, they added.