Impressive archaeological finds have been uncovered in extensive excavations being carried out by in Rosh Ha’Ayin by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The work is being done at the initiative of the Ministry of Construction and Housing and the city municipality prior to the building of new neighborhoods.
So far, scores of teenagers from preparatory programs and youth villages have participated in the excavation as part of the Israel Antiquities Authority policy of increasing public awareness of the state’s cultural heritage.
During the excavation an impressive 2,700 year old farmhouse (30 × 50 meters) and a 1,500-year-old church with colorful mosaics and inscriptions in it were uncovered.
According to Amit Shadman, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The large farmhouse was preserved to a height of more than two meters. The building is 2,700 years old and included twenty-four rooms constructed around a central courtyard.
“A large storage compartment (silo) meant to protect the grain was exposed in the courtyard. It seems that carbohydrates were as popular then as now, and the growing and processing of grain were fairly widespread in the rural-agricultural region. This was corroborated by other discoveries in the field that included numerous millstones which were used to grind the grain into flour.
“In addition, we found simple rock-hewn oil presses used in the production of olive oil”.
Among the other artifacts that were exposed in the farmhouse were two silver coins from the fourth century BCE that bear the likenesses of the goddess Athena and the Athenian owl.
According to Shadman, this farmstead and other similar ones operated for centuries until the region was abandoned during the Hellenistic period. Many hundreds of years later, in the fifth century CE, a Christian settlement wave arrived in the area and changed the landscape. Among other things, the rapid spread of Christianity at that time is apparent from the many impressive rural churches and monasteries that have been uncovered.
A monastery dating to the Byzantine period was exposed on one of the hills in the area and included a church, an oil press, residential quarters and stables equipped with mangers and troughs, etc. The floors of the church that was built in the monastery were made of colorful mosaics that included geometric and other designs.
In addition, a Greek inscription ascribed to a priest named Theodosius (a common name in the Byzantine period) was revealed in one of the mosaics.
“This place was built under Theodosius the priest. Peace be with you when you come, peace be with you when you go, Amen”.