The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it has uncovered a "spectacular" 1,500-year-old Byzantine monastery, complete with a prayer hall and intact floor mosaics, in southern Israel. The monastery, suspected of being used for Christian worship in the 6th century, was discovered as part of a salvage excavation before construction of a new highway in the Negev Desert.
The IAA said Tuesday that the Byzantine structure is 65 feet by 115 feet, and has four rooms, including a prayer hall and a dining room. The floors of the structure are lined with intact, colorful mosaics featuring classic Byzantine motifs, including flora, animals, baskets, and geometric patterns mixed in with blue, green, yellow, and red colors. The blue and red are historically associated with Christianity, but the green and yellow colors are more rare, perhaps indicating the stones that were regionally available at the time.
The mosaics also contained discretely hidden cross images meant to represent Christianity. The crosses were hidden into the design of the mosaics in order to honor an edict that prohibited crosses from being artistically created on floors where they would be easily stepped on. more >>
Crowds reportedly swarmed a Spanish church to view an ancient goblet after historians claimed they have identified it as the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus Christ sipped at the last supper before the crucifixion.
"It was in a very small room where it was not possible to admire it to the full," said Raquel Jaén, director of San Isidro Basilica in the city of León. Thousands of people have reportedly tried to visit the church this past week.
The chalice, made out of agate, gold and onyx and encrusted with precious stones, became famous after two historians recently published a book claiming it was the mythical goblet of Christ, AFP reported. more >>
Israeli authorities have uncovered 11 stolen burial boxes containing bones and believed to be from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Monday that they had recovered 11 burial boxes last week when police noticed a suspicious transaction taking place between two cars at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The antiquities authority confirmed that suspects were trying to sell the burial boxes to Jewish merchants at the checkpoint; the thieves most likely raided the boxes from a burial cave in Jerusalem, authorities said.
As LiveScience reports, the boxes, also known as ossuaries, are suspected of being 2,000 years old and are covered in Hebrew inscriptions, as well as some paint remnants. They are filled with bones and possibly pottery that was buried with the deceased. more >>
British scientists have recently discovered a unique tattoo of the Archangel Michael on a 1,300-year-old female mummy from Egypt.
The British Museum announced its discovery earlier this week, saying that the female mummy was from 700 A.D. and discovered in 2005 on the banks of the Nile, in what is now Sudan. The female, suspected to be aged 20 to 35 at the time of her death, was wrapped in linen and woolen cloth at the time of her burial.
After conducting advanced Computed Tomography (CT) scans, researchers discovered a tattoo on the mummy's upper right inner thigh with the letters "M-I-X-A-H-A" spelled out, meaning "Michael" in Ancient Greek. It is suspected that the women lived in one of the many Christian communities that dotted the Nile, and perhaps had the tattoo as a form of protection, either from sexual attacks or to protect a pregnancy. more >>
Louisiana's legislature may soon decide to make a copy of the Holy Bible their official state book, should a proposed bill be passed this session.
Known as House Bill 503, the proposed legislation looks to a specific copy of the Good Book to bestow the honor of being the 'state book' of Louisiana.
"The official state book shall be the Holy Bible, published by Johannes Prevel, (Prevel, Jean, active 1510-1528, printer. & Petit, Jean, fl. 1492-1530.), which is the oldest edition of the Holy Bible in the Louisiana State Museum system," reads HB 503. more >>
The creators of the upcoming "Noah" biblical epic starring Russell Crowe have released a video trailer featuring an inside look at how they brought to life what is undeniably the movie's biggest prop and centerpiece — the massive ark that the Old Testament narrative says was built by Noah and his family to protect them and "all living creatures" from a worldwide flood.
"There was a huge issue of what is this ark gonna look like," says Director and co-writer Darren Aronofsky in the trailer. "The idea was let's go back to what God tells Noah in the Bible."
Aronofsky adds, "It basically describes a box. It doesn't talk about a bow. It doesn't have to navigate. It wasn't like Noah was trying to take the ship anywhere. It basically has to survive the flood." more >>