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Israeli archaeologists announced on Friday the discovery of a church in the Galilee region, which they say was erected on the site of the old house of the apostles Peter and Andrew.
This Byzantine church was found in El Araj, between the biblical sites of Capernaum and Kursi, announced Mordechai Aviam, director of the archaeological excavations. According to Aviam, it would be Bethsaida, a fishing village where Pedro and his brother Andrés were born, according to the Gospel of John.
The church found corresponds to the description made of it by the Bavarian Archbishop Willibald, during his trip to Bethsaida in 725: back then indicated that a church had been built in the place where Pedro and Andrés lived. "Between Capernaum and Kursi, there is a single place that this 8th-century visitor describes as a church," Aviam emphasizes. And we have discovered this temple.
"We have only excavated a third of the church, even slightly less, but it is a church, we are sure," he said. "The structure is that of a church, the [construction] dates are from the Byzantine era, the mosaics on the floor are typical" of the period.
The excavations, which began two years ago, brought to light the Roman city of Julias, with "ceramics, coins, hard stone dishes characteristic of the Jewish homes of the first century", specified the director of the archaeological exploration.
Other sites such as the birthplace of Saint Peter could be identified. Two kilometers from El Araj, the site of Et Tell has been the subject of an excavation since 1987, in which ruins of an ancient Roman temple were found.
For the American professor Steven Notley, associated with the excavations at El Araj, research must be continued before establish with certainty that it is Bethsaida. "Finding an inscription [...] that describes in memory of who it was built" the church would be a good way to guarantee this, he told the Israeli daily Haaretz.