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1,500-year-old church found in Israel

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 2, 2011 at 6:54 a.m.

— Israeli archaeologists say they have uncovered a 1,500-year-old church, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority says the church in the hills southwest of Jerusalem was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D.

Archaeologists began digging after discovering that thieves were plundering the site. Ganor said archaeologists uncovered a mosaic “unique in its craftsmanship and level of preservation.”

Though initially identifying the building as a synagogue, they concluded it was a Byzantine church.

Reporters were given a brief glimpse of the mosaic Wednesday. It is being covered up again until funding becomes available for its proper preservation.

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