On a hill near the Sea of Galilee (Israel), there are the archaeological remains of the city of Hippos, from where the early Christians saw the water on which – according to tradition – Jesus walked upon.
It was there where archeologists have uncovered a mosaic that opens a debate about the location of the miracle where Jesus multiplied fish and bread.
According to researchers, this site was a dynamic urban center that in the golden era of the Byzantine Empire had about 4,000 inhabitants and became the most important Christian city in Galilee,” explains Michael Eisenberg, an archaeologist at the University of Haifa and excavation director of the site.
The city of Hippos was founded in the second century B.C. and came to house seven churches. Its inhabitants worked in agriculture and at sea having Greek and Frankish as languages.
They were part of an archbishopric of which there are references from the year 359, which shows that Christian worship prevailed early, and also had a small Jewish community.
One of the temples of the city revealed an incredible discovery.
On the floor of one of the excavated temples, which archaeologists call “the burned church,” an interesting mosaic was discovered. It was covered by the fall of the roof of the building and the ashes of a fire that was most likely caused by the troops of the Sassanid Empire that conquered the region in the early seventh century.
During archaeological excavations, the archaeologists found the mosaic in good condition. It includes “beautiful and simple” decorations that give details about the religious symbolism of the time. Among the decorative elements are baskets of bread and fish.
Researchers have revealed that the mosaic was covered in geometric patterns, birds, fish, fruit, and baskets. Some of the baskets were filled with loaves of bread and fish, likely relating to one of the “Feeding the Multitude” miracles related in the New Testament, according to the statement. The scripture describes Jesus multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish in order to feed as many as 5,000 men.
The intricate mosaic also features sections depicting five loaves of bread and two fish. The mosaic also portrays the 12 baskets of bread and fish that the scripture mentions Jesus’ disciples were left with after feeding the hungry.
Although there may be various explanations for the mosaic, Eisenberg argues that we cannot simply ignore the similarities to the description written down in the New Testament.
Despite the incredible discovery, the New Testament does not reference the exact location where Jesus performed this miracle. The vague description suggests it was in a remote location.
Some scholars argue that the Bible describes the Church of the Multiplication, located on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee. However, the biblical description might as well fit in with the region that is north of Hippos.
“The church is located right at the western edge of Mount Sussita and is the most western point in the city and overlooks — today as it did then — the Sea of Galilee and Jesus ministry and where most of his miracles occurred,” Eisenberg explained.
“There is no doubt that the local community was well familiar with the two miracles of Feeding the Multitude and perhaps knew their estimated locations better than us.”