Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Oldest Christian church possibly discovered in Jordan: report (via Archaeologica News) 2004-06-22 15:08:03

AMMAN, June 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The earliest known Christian church in Jordan was discovered, if the preliminary dating of the remains as first to second century A.D. proves correct, the local newspaperJordan Times reported Tuesday.

Director of Jordanian Department of Antiquities, Adnan Hadidi, told the newspaper that the church was found during the third season of excavations at Artemis Temple and its vicinity in Jerash,about 50 km south of Amman.

The excavations have been carried out by the department in cooperation with the Italian Archaeological Center of Oriental Research in Turin within a bilateral agreement between Italy and Jordan to carry out photogrammatic surveys, the report said.

The surveys were made in preparation for reconstruction work to be undertaken this year, it added.

I have to say I'm skeptical about this one. If it's true, it's qute important and I can't understand why the major media haven't picked it up. The article doesn't make clear whether this is supposed to be the earliest church found anywhere, as the headline implies, or the earliest church in Jordan. But either way, there can't be many first-to-early-second-century churches around, so it would be a big deal. But I wonder if something has been lost (or gained) in translations between Italian, Arabic, Chinese, and English. If anyone has more information, please let me know.

UPDATE (25 June): Mystery solved. I was right to be skeptical.

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