The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Sunday that a Megiddo prison will be relocated because of an ongoing excavation of an ancient mosaic dedicated to Jesus Christ.
The mosaic, which is believed to have been part of a prayer hall, was first discovered underneath the Megiddo Prison during an excavation between 2004-2008 by Israeli archaeologist Dr. Yotam Tepper.
On Sunday, archeologists with the IAA announced that the prison will be moved to another location as early as June to allow for further digging. The mosaic will also be made available to tourists.
“This structure is interpreted as the oldest Christian prayer house in the world… and in fact, it tells the story of Christianity even before it became official,” a post on the IAA’s Facebook page states.
According to the IAA’s website, the mosaic features three ancient Greek inscriptions. The inscriptions, which were a part of the floor in the western wing of the ancient prayer hall, were deciphered by Dr. Leah De Sign.
The inscription of the northern mosaic says it was built using money donated by a Roman army officer, the east-facing inscription is in honor of four women and the west-facing inscription commemorates a “god-loving woman who dedicated a table to the memory of the Lord, Jesus Christos,” the IAA reports.
“We have here archaeological evidence of an Early Christian community, whose members also included Roman army officers, from a period prior to the recognition of Christianity as a religion and years before it became the official religion of the empire,” the IAA explains. “All these factors allow us to examine questions relating to the development of the Christian religion before the Emperor Constantine, as well as issues connected with the Roman army in the eastern part of the empire in general, and the Land of Israel in particular.”
Images of fish, a traditional Christian symbol, were also featured on the mosaic.
According to CBN News, further excavation of the mosaic has been halted for years because of its location beneath the Megiddo prison.
“When the Christian prayer hall was first found beneath the prison, we were all excited for one minute,” Matthew Adams, director of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, who has spent years excavating at Megiddo, told Reuters in 2018.
“And then we realized, “Oh, it’s in a maximum-security prison, so we’ll never actually be able to do anything with it,” he added.
Last Thursday, IAA representatives, the Megiddo Regional Council and the Israel Prisons Service traveled to the prison to discuss relocation plans.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.