Ancient Ruins of the Church of the Apostles Found by Archaeologists

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient structure that they claim is the Church of the Apostles, a widely debated biblical site built on the house of the apostles Peter and Andrew.

The oldest sources about this church can be found in various Christian texts. However, so far there was no evidence of its existence, therefore Biblical scholars argued that the church was probably not real.

However, a team archaeologists from the Kinneret Academic College and Nyack College, and New York made a history-changing discovery near the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel.

They believe they have found the first physical evidence of the biblical church at the site of el-Araj, near the north coast of the Sea of Galilee.

Archaeological excavations have revealed floors with ornate mosaics, remnants of walls with typically religious mosaics, and marble fragments of a presbytery screen. According to Haaretz, the experts found “gilded glass tesserae.”

Image of Area C of the archaeological site. Image Credit: El-Araj Excavations.
Image of Area C of the archaeological site. Image Credit: El-Araj Excavations.

Mordechai Aviam, of Kinneret Academic College, said that this season of archaeological works in the vicinity of el-Araj have confirmed the finding of Bethsaida, the town where, according to the Gospel of John, the apostle Peter and his brother Andrew were born.

“We excavated only one-third of the church, a bit less, but we have a church and that’s for sure,” Aviam revealed in an interview with AFP.

“The plan is of a church, the dates are Byzantine, the mosaic floors are typical… chancel screens, everything that is typical of a church. Between Capernaum and Kursi there is only one place where a church is described by the visitor in the eighth century and we discovered it, so this is the one,” he added.

According to scholars, was built over the home of the two apostles Peter and Andrew. Although the ruins have still not been dated, experts believe they date back to the 5th century AD, around five hundred years after Peter and Andrew became disciples of Jesus.

Despite the fact that scholars have still not “officially” identified the archeological as the Church of the Apostles, the researchers are confident, despite–so far–not discovering any inscriptions indicating that it was built to sanctify the two saints.

The belief that they’ve found the historical church is based on the writings of Willibald, a German bishop from 725 AD who said that he saw the church as he was journeying from Capernaum to Kursine, near the Lake of Galilee.

And since this is the only church ever found or documented at this location, the archaeologists are positive it is the Church of Apostles.

Although researchers have only excavated the southern parts of the archaeological site, they say the evidence points to it being part of a monastic complex.

“We have excavated a third of the structure, or maybe a little less, but we have a church here, that’s for sure,” Aviam revealed.

El-Araj ExcavationsHaaretz
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