Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Byzantine Monastery Found in Negev Finally Revealed

The 6th-century monastery, uncovered in 1989, is now open to the press, featuring beautiful designs and inscriptions

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: April 4th, 2014 in News » Israel

On Tuesday, the discovery of a Byzantine monastery in northern Negev was made public.

Excavated near the entrance to the Bedouin Village Hura by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the monastery was found during the construction of a new interchange on the road leading to the village decades ago.

The monastery dates back to the sixth century, with mosaic floors decorated in leaves of different colours, geometric patterns, and bordered by an additional three patterns. The dining hall floor was found to have been decorated with numerous colourful birds, pitchers, amphorae, baskets, flowers, leaves, geometic shapes, and a diamond-shaped pattern in the background.

The floors of both rooms were found to have been decorated with Greek inscriptions that bore the names of the monastery’s abbots: Elijah, Nonos, Salomon, and Ilrion, and the date of the monastery’s construction. A Syriac translation was found beside the Greek inscription, which indicated that the floor had been laid down during the second half of the 6th century.

The building is believed to have collapsed at the end of the Byzantine period, after which time the eastern wing was largely destroyed in landslides. The wing that survived – the western one – was revealed Tuesday.

In addition to the surviving floors, numerous items, including pots, bowls, pottery glass objects, and coins, were also found at the site. The press was invited to photograph the area, but the site remains closed to the public for safety reasons.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, National Roads Company, Hura Municipality and the Wadi Atir Fondation plan to move the monastery and the floors to Wadi Atir, a Bedouin-built farm and tourist site in the Negev


Photo Credit: Menahem Kahana

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