Evidence of a Byzantine church, dated to around 1,500 years ago has been found on a beach in the Israeli city of Ashdod.
During the Byzantine Period, Ashdod-Yam was a major port city known as known as Azotos Paralios, mentioned in the famous 6th century Madaba Map.
The discovery was made by Superintendent Itai Dabush and Sergeant Sagiv Ben Gigi, from the Ashdod Municipal Police Unit during a routine inspection of the coastal sand dunes.
The pair found an exposed 1.6 metres long marble pillar made from imported material, possibly related to a church found near the site by archaeologists back in 2017.
Archaeological excavations have been conducted in Ashdod since 2013 under the direction of Dr. Alex Pantalkin of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures of Tel Aviv University.
Levi Levy, Ashdod sub-district archaeologist said: “Finding a complete pillar in this condition is a very rare find, especially on the beach where people are walking by every day.”
Israel Antiquities Authority Director Eli Escozido said: “The pillar appears to have been exposed following the recent rains in the area. Every discovery like this adds an additional piece to understanding the cultural puzzle of the country”.
Header Image Credit : Shira Lipshitz, Antiquities Authority