Church of John the Baptist Discovered
(July 20, 1999)
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on July 3, 1999, that a sixth century Byzantine church dedicated to John the Baptist has been discovered at the Tel a-Shakef dig at an Israel military installation in the Gaza Strip.
The Church, measuring 13x25 meters in area, is covered in marble floor tiles and multi-colored mosaics of geometric shapes and flora motifs, as well as three Greek inscriptions, translated by IAA Professor Vassilios Tzaperis as follows:
Dig Director Yaakov Huster, on behalf of the IAA, stated that a previous excavation at the site revealed a magnificent bathhouse and fish pond in almost perfect condition, next to the church. "These discoveries show that this was a major church in a successful community in the mid-sixth century, during the reign of Justinian."
The site is located at a military installation in the northwest edge of the Gaza Strip, in an area under Israeli military and civilian control. The excavation is being conducted by the archeology officer for Judea and Samaria and the base commander, with the aid of the Employment Service as part of a public works project for the unemployed.
Source: Israel Government Press Office, March 7, 1999