Experts uncover 1,500-year-old church

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The Independent Online

Israeli archaeologists today said they have uncovered a 1,500-year-old church, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the church in the hills south-west of Jerusalem was active between the fifth and seventh centuries.

Archaeologists began digging after discovering that thieves were plundering the site.

Mr Ganor said archaeologists uncovered a mosaic "unique in its craftsmanship and level of preservation".

Though initially identifying the building as a synagogue, they concluded it was a Byzantine church.

Journalists were given a brief glimpse of the mosaic today before it was covered up again until funding becomes available for its proper preservation.