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Ancient Cave Linked to Early Christians in Jordan

June 12, 2008

Wednesday June 11, 2008. Archaeologists in Jordan have discovered a cave underneath Saint Georgeous Church in Rihab, Mafraq, Jordan,
(AP Photo/Mohammad abu Ghosh)

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Archaeologists in Jordan have discovered a cave underneath one of the world’s oldest churches and say it may have been an even more ancient site of Christian worship. But outside experts expressed caution about the claim.

Archaeologist Abdel-Qader al-Housan, head of the Rihab Center for Archaeological Studies, said this week that the cave was unearthed in the northern Jordanian city of Rihab after three months of excavation and shows evidence of early Christian rituals.

The cave is under St. George’s Church, which some believe was built in the year 230, though the date is widely disputed. That would make it one of the oldest churches in the world, along with one unearthed in the Jordanian southern port of Aqaba in 1998 and another in Israel discovered in 2005.

Al-Housan said there was evidence that the underground cave was used as a church by 70 disciples of Jesus in the first century after Christ’s death, which would make it the oldest Christian site of worship in the world.

He described a circular worship area with stone seats separated from a living area that had a long tunnel leading to a source of water. He said the early Christians hid there from persecution.

A mosaic inscription on the floor of the later church of St. George above refers to “the 70 beloved by God and the divine” who founded the worship there.

Archimandrite Nektarious, bishop deputy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Amman, hailed the discovery, calling it an “important milestone for Christians all around the world and right here at home.”

“It confirms that Christians in this region are not strangers,” he said. “They are real citizens who have always had roots in this region from those days until the present.”

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  1. June 12, 2008 5:54 pm

    How about giving Jordan back to the Christians?

    Obviously, the Christian claim there precedes that of Mohammed the Pedophile — by some 5 centuries.

    Always On Watch’s last blog post..Weekly Radio Show: June 13 — Ted Shoebat

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