El Araj Archaeological Excavations Season 7 - Week 2 Day 4 – This day was our last full day of excavating in the summer heat. We watched the moon sit once again in the west. The excavation conservator Yeshu Dray visited first thing in the morning to discuss the apse and what can be done so that we can continue to dig down to uncover the ancient structure that was carefully sealed beneath the apse. Next month they will remove the mosaic floor and when excavations continue in October, we will uncover the Roman period construction. Later in the morning we were visited by the heads of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which meant uncovering the medallion mosaic from last summer for them to see this important find. Sunya and I had the privilege to prepare the mosaic for their arrival. Elsewhere in the excavation, the pace picked up as we were all aware that the summer session was drawing to a close. Area D continued its work in uncovering the Roman period homes. The Hong Kong team finally made its way through a deep Crusader layer to reach the Roman level. And along the northern wall of the basilica there are some very, very interesting developments. We have always assumed that the 5-6 century basilica was the first Christian presence on the site after two centuries of abandonment. This idea may need to be adjusted, because they have now uncovered a lengthy wall with pilasters from what appears to be an earlier (4 c.?) church. If this is the case, it may belong to the witness of Epiphanius the 4 c. bishop from Salamis, Cyprus who speaks of Constantine granting the Christians permission to build churches in Galilee. The earlier church at el Araj (Bethsaida) would then belong to the same period as the earlier Church at Tabgha (over which the of the Church of the Multiplication is built) and Capernaum. Hopefully this can be clarified in the autumn session. I have included an assortment of pictures of folks working hard. In the afternoon we had another session of washing and reading pottery.
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