2,000-year-old basilica to be excavated, restored in Israel
A 2,000-year-old basilica complex dating from Roman times will be fully unearthed, restored and opened to visitors as part of a renovation project in Tel Ashkelon National Park.
The complex, the largest of its kind in Israel, was discovered during archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) as part of a vast project to develop the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the municipality of Ashkelon and the Léon Lévy Foundation.
The likely builder of the basilica is Herod the Great, whose family may have originated from Ashkelon. The Herodian coins discovered in the foundation of the ancient floors of the structure support this hypothesis.
The 200 marble objects found at the site, uncovered over many years of excavation, were made of marble imported from Asia Minor in merchant ships that docked on the shores of Ashkelon, which was a bustling port town and hub. commercial.
Among the many pieces unearthed were dozens of column capitals with plant motifs, and some bearing an eagle – the symbol of the Roman Empire.
During the Roman period, public life in Ashkelon revolved around its basilica, where residents conducted business, met for social and legal matters, and held cultural events and religious ceremonies.
The site was destroyed in an earthquake that hit the area in AD 363, with the effects of seismic waves clearly visible on the floor of the basilica.
British archaeological excavations at Tel Ashkelon in the 1920s unearthed huge statues of pagan gods, including a statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, supported by the god Atlas holding a sphere, and a statue of the Egyptian god Isis.
Tel Ashkelon was the first national park to be declared in Israel in the 1960s.