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Photos: Remains of Ancient Monastery in Israel

Church ruins

The ruins of a richly decorated church were unearthed during salvage excavations in the city of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, in Israel.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

The ruins of a richly decorated church were unearthed during salvage excavations in the city of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, in Israel. [Read the full story on the Israel monastery]

Ancient marble

Archaeologists and high-school students participating in the dig uncovered architectural elements including this marble pillar base decorated with crosses.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists and high-school students participating in the dig uncovered architectural elements at the site, including this marble pillar base decorated with crosses.

Valuable decor

The elaborate mosaic floor and the marble imported from Turkey indicate this Byzantine church was wealthy when it was in use 1,500 years ago.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

The elaborate mosaic floor and the marble imported from Turkey indicate that the Byzantine church was wealthy when it was in use 1,500 years ago.

Mosaic pattern

The mosaic floor includes images of birds and pomegranates, as well as leaf patterns.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

The mosaic floor includes images of birds and pomegranates, as well as leaf patterns.

Abandoned?

Archaeologists are trying to understand why the church seems to have been cleared out and abandoned in the seventh century.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists are trying to understand why the church seems to have been cleared out and abandoned in the seventh century.

Good preservation

The researchers working on the excavation say the ruins make up one of the best-preserved examples of a Byzantine church and monastery complex in the region.

(Image credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)

The researchers working on the excavation say the ruins make up one of the best-preserved examples of a Byzantine church and monastery complex in the region. [Read the full story on the Israel monastery]