Archaeologists digging near Tel Aviv unearthed a glimpse of daily life 1,500 years ago and Christianity's influence then in the region. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) found remains of an agriculture community, as well as an artifact perhaps from a Byzantine-era church and a gold coin depicting Jesus' crucifixion.
"The excavation unearthed evidence of agricultural-industrial activity at the site during the Byzantine period—about 1,500 years ago," explains Dr. Yoav Arbel, excavation director on behalf of the IAA.
Arbel said the finds included a winepress, possibly a large warehouse foundation, storage, and cooking jars, and cooking and medicinal stone tools made from the basalt found in the Golan Heights in Galilee.
The coin is believed to have been minted in 638 or 639 AD. On one side is the image of Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor at the time. The other side contains three figures depicting Jesus' crucifixion at Golgotha. The original owner of the special coin also put an inscription on it (in Greek and possibly Arabic) to mark his prized possession.
A chain made of bronze was also discovered at the dig in Ramat Ha-Sharon. Glass lamp chandeliers in Byzantine churches were hung using chains such as the one uncovered at the site.
Archaeologists also found remnants of the Muslim conquest around the same time. For example, they unearthed remains of jars for storing grain, baking ovens, and a workshop for blowing glass.
The mayor of Ramat Ha-Sharon said he plans to find a way to bring the old and new together by incorporating the ancient archaeological site into a new housing development just outside of Tel Aviv.