Archaeologists Uncover 1,500-Year-Old Church

A 1,500-year-old church was uncovered southwest of Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The Byzantine church was first suspected to be a synagogue but it was then discovered to be a church after a number of crosses were found.

According to The Associated Press, it has a well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

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The leader of the dig, Amir Ganor, stated that the church is dated to have been active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D. He commented that this is "one of the most beautiful mosaics to be uncovered in Israel in recent years."

According to researchers, the church was built over another building about 500 years older, which scholars say was inhabited by Jews.

Scholars suspect that the steps leading to a burial cave might be the burial place of the Old Testament prophet Zecharia.

The church will be open for another week and then covered up until it receives funding to open it up as a tourist site, according to Ganor.

Last February, archeologists found a wall that dates back to the time of Solomon. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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