01 November 2011

Jerusalem dig unearths Christian icon


Jerusalem dig unearths Christian icon

From: AP
November 01, 2011 12:00AM

A TINY, exquisitely made box found on an excavated street in Jerusalem
is a token of Christian faith from 1400 years ago, Israeli archeologists

The box, carved from an animal bone, decorated with a cross on the lid
and measuring 2cm by 1.5cm, was probably carried by a Christian around
the end of the 6th century AD, according to Yana Tchekhanovets of the
Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the directors of the excavation
where the box was found.

When the lid is removed, the remains of two portraits are visible in
paint and gold leaf. A man and a woman, they are probably Christian
saints and possibly Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

The box was found outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in the
remains of a Byzantine-era road. Uncovered two years ago, it was treated
by preservation experts and researched before it was unveiled at an
archeological conference last week. The box offers the first
archeological evidence that the use of icons in the Byzantine period was
not limited to church ceremonies.
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Part of a similar box was found in Jordan three decades ago, but this is
the only well-preserved whole example found so far. Similar icons are
carried today by some Christians, especially from the eastern Orthodox

The relic was found in the City of David excavation, named for the
biblical monarch thought to have ruled a Jewish kingdom from the site.

The politically sensitive dig is in the Palestinian area of Silwan, just
outside the Old City walls in east Jerusalem, the section of the city
captured by Israeli forces in 1967 and still claimed by Palestinians as
their capital.

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