Archaeologists find Israel’s largest ancient Roman basilica
An ancient Roman basilica has been excavated in Israel following a project to develop a park in Ashkelon.
The Israel Parks and Nature Authority (INPA) announced that the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) unearthed the basilica, which is believed to be 2,000 years old, during renovations to Tel Ashkelon National Park, Jerusalem post reported.
But according to IAA’s Dr Rachel Bar Nathan, Saar Ganor and Federico Kobrin, it was already found by a foreign archaeologist about a hundred years ago.
“The basilica was first discovered in the 1920s by British archaeologist John Garstang who led an expedition on behalf of the Palestinian Exploration Fund and then covered the structure once again,” they said. .
Excavations in the area only resumed in 2008 to 2012, as well as in 2016 to 2018.
The structure has three sections, including a main hall and two side sections. It was said that the hall was surrounded by large marble columns adorned in the Roman style.
Dr Bar Nathan, the authority’s excavation director, said the structure would be built by Herod, based on Garstang’s observations.
“Garstang had already calculated the dimensions of the building, and seeing the remains of the marble columns, made with materials imported from Asia Minor, he had suggested that the basilica dated from the time of King Herod the Great, since the historian Josephus described how the king built a colonnaded hall and other structures in the city, ”she said.
However, the director explained that although the building was built during the reign of Herod, the “most grandiose elements”, the marbles and the columns were only built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, to “the time of the emperor Septimius Severus”.
The authority also found a small odeon or theater, Herodian coins and marble structures created during the reign of Severus.
the building was destroyed in an earthquake in 363 CE, but archaeologists plan to restore parts of it so visitors get a feel for its splendor as it was built in Roman times.
The restoration of the basilica and the theater is managed by the IAA, in partnership with the INPA, the Léon Levy Foundation and the municipality of Ashkelon, as part of the development of the region. The park will soon be accessible to the public.
Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam said ongoing work and recent discoveries would strengthen the park’s status as “the most beautiful in the country.”
“Ashkelon National Park is one of the most important ancient sites, both in Israel and in the world, and time and time again it emerges as one of the most visited sites in the country. I am confident that the restoration and conservation work in the park, new archaeological finds and development work – including new accessible trails – will significantly contribute to the natural beauty of the park and strengthen its status as a national park. most beautiful and best maintained in Israel, ”said Tomer, captured by CBN News.
His website describes the park as “a fascinating antique site” where people can enjoy nature and swim in the beach.
Besides the basilica, it also includes the Canaanite gate, the Antilia wells, the rampart, the medieval walls, the bathing beach, the amphitheater, as well as the sand dunes and the kurkar.