Skip to comments.Archaeologists Reconstruct Huge Early Christian Cathedral in Northern Israel
Posted on 01/08/2023 4:43:34 PM PST by SunkenCiv
About 1,500 years ago, in the previously Roman city of Antiochia Hippos, a magnificent cathedral arose. It was decked out in the finest stone available, say the archaeologists who have now completed an excavation there that began seven decades ago. And what they found in its ruins may shed light on early Christian power politics in Byzantine Palestine.
Now theoretically reconstructed (on paper) for the first time, its size and pomp suggest that this basilica and its presiding bishop commanded a monopoly over baptism of catechumens in much of what is today the southern Golan Heights and eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, posit Arleta Kowalewska and Michael Eisenberg from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa...
Its inner dimensions are 28 by 18 meters (92 by 59 feet) and the baptistery hall alone is 18 by 13 meters – the largest in Israel, Eisenberg says.
The other churches were no slouches, but the cathedral was stupendous. Its floor was tiled in a red and white marble chessboard style (not mosaic carpet but stone tiles – nearby Kursi also has ancient flooring like that). The walls were tiled with white marble, plastered and gaily painted.
The main prayer hall was a single two-story space up to the ceiling of the structure, while the aisle areas flanking the nave were constructed as two stories, the team reconstructs. The non-central parts of the cathedral were carpeted with mosaics featuring inscriptions that helped date the edifice to the late sixth century.
(Excerpt) Read more at haaretz.com ...
The cathedral toward the end of excavations. The white and red opus sectile floor is exposed along the southern aisleCredit: Michael Eisenberg
So this building arose about the time of the final years of the Empire in the West.
The various pillars of different materials and colors may well have been donated by different people or communities. The ‘riot of color’ being incidental to the statement of unity represented by the pillars.
People in the ancient world liked things colorful. :^) They might have been early adopters of naugahyde if given the opportunity.
When I visited Jordan, I toured a Christian Church. It was colorful! And they even had rich Corinthian leather chairs.
According to the article, which, by the way, is exemplary for its obsession with the minutest details, the pillars were likely re-purposed from dilapidated Roman temples in the area felled by the earthquake of 363AD, shortly after the Constantine Edict made Christianity the official religion, and about a couple of hundred years before this cathedral was built.
They did have a crucifix. This was yards from Jesus’ Baptism site.
“363AD, shortly after the Constantine Edict made Christianity the official religion”
That statement is incorrect.
The Constantine edict of Milan of 313 AD legalised Christianity (it was illegal before). It did not make it THE official religion.
Only with Emperor Theodosius in 378 AD was Christianity made the state religion
You are right. I misspoke.
No worries, it’s just that I have so many discussions with Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses, Muslims, Adventists and even anti-Christian atheists etc. who say that Constantine made Christianity the state religion that I kind of jump on the “hey wait a minute” wagon quickly :)
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