Tracing the Presence and Instructions of Christ
"He was one of more than a million people living here then, an ordinary Jew who had original ideas and attracted some followers."
"His fame only really started after his death."
Gideon Avni, head of archaeology, Israeli Antiquity Authority
"We have not found any evidence of the person of Jesus, but we have found lots of things about what happened at the time he lived, such as the population and the material culture that grew because of him."
Eugenio Alliata, professor of Christian archaeology, Franciscan biblical school, Jerusalem
"These coins give us a rare look into this Christian ancient world."
"The hoard was found amongst large stones that had collapsed alongside the building. It seems that during a time of danger the owner placed the coins in a cloth purse that he concealed inside a hidden niche in the wall."
Annette Landes-Nagar, archaeologist, Beit Shemesh, Israel
|Photo by Lehava Center – Beit Shemesh Pikiwiki Israel under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.|
There are ancient artifacts awaiting discovery everywhere in the Holy Land of ancient Judea. More than anywhere else on Earth when construction projects are under way, archaeologists are on the lookout for the presence of antiquities to give additional clues to those who lived there thousands of years earlier, how they lived, what their lives were like. And when a highway was being rebuilt fairly recently, it was revealed that there was evidence of an ancient Christian village having sat there that welcomed pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, a millennium and a half earlier.
A cache of rare Byzantium-era coins was discovered, hidden by their owner for the previous 1,400 years within the walls of a stone building in the village so recently unearthed. The village, archaeologists believe, was named Einbikumakube. Within Israel, approximately 40,000 objects of antiquity are discovered annually, and many represent the existence of Christianity in the region, proof if any was needed, of the important place of Christianity in the Middle East.
Enquiring and curious journalist were invited to take part in an informative tour of the Israel Antiquities Authority's central warehouse in Beit Shemesh, 40 minutes west of Jerusalem. There, they had a glimpse of the tens of thousands of relics of the distant past that have been discovered across Israel since 1948, maintained at the warehouse from where they are placed on display in museums, for the public to view as objects testifying to the region's heritage.
Although the latest objects that were discovered cannot be interpreted as evidence of the existence of Jesus, they do give some clues about the time that he lived and the manner in which residents of the area at the time lived. Archaeologists feel fairly confident that, with the assistance of hundreds of finds from archaeological digs, they can reconstruct Jesus's life with a fair degree of accuracy from the Church of the Nativity, revered as his birthplace, forward to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre..
As far as Professor Alliata of the Franciscan biblical school in Jerusalem is concerned, the most recent artifacts corroborate biblical narratives of Jesus's life, placing his existence and its times into a context of reality. The artifacts also are useful to the trained scientist of ancient history for the insight they provide respecting Christians following Jesus's teachings after his Crucifixion; evidence of the Christian movement from the end of the first century.
Christian pilgrims travelled to Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, throughout the Byzantine period and during the period of the Crusades. The vulgar, day-to-day items being unearthed from those times of antiquity enable archaeologists to study the life of Jesus and his instructions. The coins are estimated to have been placed within the building wall around the year 614, matching the period when Persian armies invaded the Holy Land and in their passage, destroyed churches and Christian communities.
Behind them, but not associated with them until much later in its history, came the rise of Islam.