Israeli Archaeologists Unearth 1,500-Year-Old Church with Drawings by Christian Pilgrims


June 6, 2024


Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered walls belonging to a 1,500-year-old church with drawings from Christian pilgrims who likely stopped at the building on their way to sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The walls were discovered within the Negev in Israel during an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and will be displayed to the public June 6, according to an IAA press release. IAA called it a “very big surprise.”

The drawings depict ships and likely would have been made shortly after the pilgrims docked their own ships along the Mediterranean coast. The church is about a half day’s walk from the port. The church would have been built some 500 years after Christ. Pilgrimages to sites associated with the life of Jesus and biblical events became increasingly popular among Christians after Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the 300s. The excavation directors said the drawings were a “greeting from Christian pilgrims arriving by ship” to the port.

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