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]
Archaeologists and high-school students participating in the dig uncovered architectural elements at the site, including this marble pillar base decorated with crosses.
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.
The mosaic floor includes images of birds and pomegranates, as well as leaf patterns.
Archaeologists are trying to understand why the church seems to have been cleared out and abandoned in the seventh century.
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]