Colorful Mosaics Unearthed

Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Kinneret Academic College have uncovered the ruins of a 1,300-year-old church at the Circassian village of Kfar Kama in Israel.

Mosaic floor of the Byzantine-period church at Kfar Kama, Israel. Image credit: Alex Wiegmann, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Mosaic floor of the Byzantine-period church at Kfar Kama, Israel. Image credit: Alex Wiegmann, Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The church measures 12 by 36 m (39.4 by 118 feet) and includes a large courtyard, a narthex foyer, and a central hall,” said Dr. Nurit Feig, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“While most churches are characterized by a single apse (prayer niche), this church had three apses.”

“The nave and the aisles were paved with mosaics which partially survived. Their colorful decoration stands out, incorporating geometric patterns, and blue, black, and red floral patterns.”

“A special discovery was the small reliquary, a stone box used to preserve sacred relics.”

The archaeologists also uncovered an additional series of rooms adjacent to the church.

“It is quite possible that this large complex was a monastery,” they noted.

In the early 1960s, a smaller church with two chapels was excavated inside the village of Kfar Kama and was dated to the first half of the 6th century CE.

“This was probably the village church, whilst the church now discovered was probably part of a contemporary monastery on the outskirts of the village,” said Professor Moti Aviam, an archaeologist at Kinneret Academic College.

“The new discovery hints at the apparent importance of the Christian village settled in the Byzantine period close to Mount Tabor, a site of primary religious significance for Christianity, identified as the site of the Transfiguration.”

“In 1876, when the Circassian Shapsug tribe first settled in Kfar Kama, they used the stones of the ancient village to build their houses.”

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This article is based on text provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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