Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 6, 2024

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Christian Stone Engravings in Gaza

Archaeologists have made a significant discovery of 1,500-year-old ship drawings created by Christian pilgrims in Gaza. The etchings provide a glimpse into the transportation routes used by early Christian pilgrims heading to the Holy Land.

Daily Mail reported that archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered an ancient Byzantine-era church near Gaza. These sketches, believed to date back 1,500 years, depict a two-masted ship with intriguing details such as oars but no sails and a small flag.

Ancient Church Unveils Pilgrim Sketches

The sketches were found in the Rahat church, adjoining the ancient Roman road from Gaza port along the Mediterranean coast to Beer Sheva. Pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and various significant sites in the Negev Hills are believed to have traversed this historical route.

The drawings were etched on stones found upside down, indicating they might have been placed without knowledge or regard for what they depicted. "It is reasonable that their first stop after alighting from the ships in Gaza port was this very church," said the excavation team.

Excavation directors Oren Shmueli, Dr. Elena Kogan-Zehavi, and Dr. Noé David Michael said:

The ship is indeed an old Christian symbol, but in this case—apparently, it is a true graphical depiction of real ships in which the pilgrims traveled to the Holy Land.

Details of the Drawings and Historical Context

One sketch appears to be an aerial view of a ship with oars on either side. Prof. Deborah Cvikel from the University of Haifa's Department of Maritime Civilizations suggested, "It seems the artist was attempting a three-dimensional drawing."

The second drawing displays an artemon, a steering aid, hinting at the artist's familiarity with maritime life. This level of detail offers a rare glance into the maritime practices of Christian pilgrims circa 1,500 years ago.

The pilgrims likely made the Rahat church their first stop after disembarking at Gaza port. "This site lies only a half-days walk from the port," the excavation team noted. They believe these pilgrims left their mark in the form of these ship drawings on the church walls.

Significance of the Discovered Ship Engravings

The recent discovery of ship drawings in a Byzantine-period church in Northern Negev has shed light on the transportation methods and maritime environment of Christian pilgrims visiting the Holy Land 1,500 years ago.

These engravings, similar to those found in Jerusalem's Holy Sepulchre church, underscore the importance of such artwork in commemorating pilgrim journeys. The fact that the stones bearing these ship sketches were initially found upside down suggests their significance was previously unrecognized.

This finding enhances our knowledge of early Christian pilgrims' routes, transportation, and cultural practices, providing valuable historical insights.

In conclusion, the discovery of 1,500-year-old ship drawings in a Byzantine-era church near Gaza offers compelling insights into the travel and life of early Christian pilgrims.

The detailed sketches, found by archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority, suggest that the church was a significant stop for pilgrims traveling from Gaza port to Jerusalem and other holy sites. These findings illuminate the modes of transport used and enhance the historical narrative of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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