Excavators preparing a plot of earth in southern Israel for new construction instead unearthed an impressive 1,500-year-old church, reports Fox News. The structure, about 70 feet long and 40 feet wide, dates to the Byzantine era and still has mosaics with intricate geometric designs in place on its floors, reports the Jerusalem Post. Archeologists also found a pottery workshop, suggesting that the church served as a major community hub in its day.
They've turned up Byzantine settlements in the region of Moshav Aluma previously, but this is the first church, reports the Times of Israel. "At its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic’s construction," says the Israel Antiquities Authority. The church will get covered up again, but authorities plan to remove the main mosaic for future display.