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Archaeological (and enigmatic) find in Israel: “Christ, born of Mary”

The magnificent building with the inscription incorporated in secondary use (Photo: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority)
The magnificent building with the inscription incorporated in secondary use (Photo: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority in the village of and-Taiyiba, in the valley of Jezreel, amazed their archaeologists: they discovered an inscription dedicated to Jesus, the son of Mary. The Greek inscription, engraved in stone, comes from the frame of an entrance door that dates from the Byzantine period (late 5th century).

In the table of rock of more than 1,500 years the following phrase is read: “Christ born of Mary. This work of the most God-fearing and pious bishop [Theodo]sius y el miserable Th[omas] It was built from the ground up – -. Who enters must pray for them”.

According to the researchers, the stone with the legend was discovered incorporated in secondary use in one of the walls of a magnificent building dating from the Byzantine period or the first Islamic period, where the works allowed to see two rooms containing mosaic floors with a geometric design.

Students from Hanaton's pre-military preparatory program who participated in the excavations (Photo: Einat Ambar-Armon, Israel Antiquities Authority)
Students from Hanaton’s pre-military preparatory program who participated in the excavations (Photo: Einat Ambar-Armon, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The inscription was recovered in an archaeological excavation led by Tzachi Lang and Kojan Haku, from Israel Antiquities Authority, before the construction of a road within the village. As part of the policy of this official body to promote public interest in archeology, students, volunteers and workers from the local community participated in the earthworks.

According Dr. Leah Di-Segni, researcher at Institute of Archeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who deciphered the text, is a dedicatory inscription that was engraved while the foundations of the church were being laid.

According to the specialist, the formula “Christ, born of Mary”Was intended to protect its readers from the evil eye, and was commonly used at the beginning of inscriptions and documents of the time. Christ (Christos, in Greek, or Messiah) refers to Jesus. Of Signs adds that “the inscription greets those who enter and blesses them. Therefore, it is clear that the building is a church and not a monastery: churches greeted believers at their entrance, while monasteries tended not to.”.

The inscription found: “Christ, born of Mary" (Photo: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority)
The inscription found: “Christ, born of Mary” (Photo: Tzachi Lang, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Teodosio, whom the text refers to as the founder of the building, he was one of the first Christian bishops. He served as regional archbishop, the supreme religious authority of the metropolis of Beit Shean, to which it belonged and-Taiyiba.

Dr. Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority, dice: “This is the first evidence of the existence of the Byzantine church in the town of et-Taiyiba and adds to other findings that account for the activities of the Christians who lived in the region. The remains of a church from the Crusader period were previously discovered at the site, and a monastery discovered more recently by Nurit Feig of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Moti Aviam of Kinneret College in Kfar Kama is one of a series of monasteries that were under the jurisdiction of the religious metropolis Beit Shean”.

According to the excavation directors Tzachi Lang y Kojan Haku, “The excavation produced finds from a variety of periods, shedding light on the long sequence of settlements at et-Taiyiba in the valley, and on their status among local settlements.”

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Kim Diaz

Kim recently joined the team, and she writes for the Headline column of the website. She has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism.

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