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Discovered 1,500-year-old Byzantine church dedicated to martyr

After three years of excavations, the Israel Antiquities Authority believes that it was a site of pilgrimage until the Abbasid caliphate in the ninth century.

Historians believe the church was built in honour of an unnamed martyr, as excavations revealed a mosaic floor with Greek inscriptions explaining so.

Findings from the church were put on display at an exhibition titled "The Glorious Martyr" starting last Wednesday at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. The site is also known as "The Church of the Glorious Martyr."

"In the Byzantine period, locations traditionally associated with major events of the Old and New Testaments, including sites linked to saints and martyrs, were venerated as holy places. Churches containing martyrs' relics became important destinations for Christian pilgrims," museum noted.

The church was first uncovered by the Construction and Housing Ministry during construction work aimed at expanding the city of Bet Shemesh's suburb Ramat Bet Shemesh, which is located about 18 miles from Jerusalem.

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