Washington, August 12 : The excavation of the ruins of a Roman temple from the second century CE in Israel, has suggested that Jews, pagans and Christians may have lived and prayed together in the building.
The archaeological site is located in the Zippori National Park in Israel.
The excavations, which were undertaken by the Noam Shudofsky Zippori Expedition led by of Professor Zeev Weiss of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, shed light on the multi-cultural society of ancient Zippori.
The newly discovered temple is located south of the decumanus (colonnaded street), which ran from east to west and was the main thoroughfare in the city during the Roman through Byzantine period.
The temple, measuring approximately 24 by 12 meters, was built with a decorated facade facing the street. The temple's walls were plundered in ancient times and only its foundations remain.
The discovery indicated that Zippori, the Jewish capital of the Galilee during the Roman period, had a significant pagan population which built a temple in the heart of the city center.
The central location of the temple, which is positioned within a walled courtyard and its architectural relation to the surrounding buildings, enhances the knowledge regarding the planning of Zippori in the Roman era.
The building of the church on the foundation of the temple testifies to the preservation of the sacred section of the city over time.
This new finding demonstrates not only the religious life, culture and society in Roman and Byzantine Zippori, but also that this was a city in which Jews, pagans and later Christians lived together and developed their hometown with various buildings.
Though no evidence has been found that reveals the nature of the temple's rituals, but some coins dating from the time of Antoninus Pius, minted in Diocaesarea (Zippori), depict a temple to the Roman gods Zeus and Tyche.
The temple ceased to function at an unknown date, and a large church, the remains of which were uncovered by the Hebrew University excavation team in previous seasons, was built over it in the Byzantine period.