Photo: Fox News
Syrian archaeologists have reported that during the excavations they have found a secret underground passage and the underground shelter where Christians of the early centuries fled from persecution by the Roman authorities.
It is reported Rublev.com with reference to The Gospel Herald and on Fox News.
Underground tunnel, scientists have discovered near the town of Manbij, located in the North of the country. Here in antiquity was situated the city of Hierapolis, the former center of the Roman province of the Euphrates.
The works were supervised by Abdulwahab Sheko (Abdulwahab Sheko), head of the Committee for the exploration of the Council on archaeological sites Manuja.
The excavation project lasted for many years, and for the first time the ruins were discovered in 2014, but because of the occupation of Syria, the so-called Islamic state archaeological work stopped for two years. Excavations resumed in August 2017.
In the ancient ruins, archaeologists found a narrow tunnel and a side passage, which may have been used by believers to send secret messages. Here we found a secret door, made of large stones, and a temporary altar with steps. On the pillars and the stone walls were engraved with crosses and the sacred texts.
In addition, the archaeologists found a cemetery, where presumably there were buried priests. Human bones were found in the large tombs made of stone. Scholars have suggested that the underground cemetery, in accordance with the existing in first-century tradition, was also used as a place for gatherings of believers and worship.
During excavations scientists have found another piece of ancient structures. It includes the lead to the dungeon stone staircase with 11 steps and numerous underground facilities. They were decorated with Christian symbols, for example, engraved on columns of images of the cross in combination with geometrical patterns, used in the Roman period, as well as the gospel texts.
Scientists believe that the images could be done by the Christians after the legalization of Christianity in the Empire, that is, after the Milan edict of Emperor Constantine (313 ad). Most likely, then underground spaces for meetings and worship is no longer used.
Dr. John Weinland (John Wineland), associate Professor of the history of southeastern University in Lakeland (FL, USA), doctor of philosophy in the field of ancient history and a professional archaeologist, in comments to Fox News noted that archaeologists discovered objects can be important for the study of the history of Christianity in the region.
“The finds indicate that this area was a significant Christian population, which felt the need to hide their activities, he said. Is probably evidence of the persecution by the Roman authorities, which were widespread in the period.”
Scientist noted that, when the early Christians preached their faith, they spoke of the need “to partake of the body of Christ and drink His blood”, which often led to distorted understanding of the Christian faith and the accusations of cannibalism and sectarianism. Christians of the time “was going to secretly, underground, to avoid trouble. But the Romans were afraid of any group that met secretly,” said George. Vineland.
Therefore, the Roman government considered Christianity an illegal religion, and Christians suffered persecution “on the part of Rome first sporadically, then more systematically”.
A. Sheko admitted that his team lacked the resources for a proper examination of the artifacts. In search of help, he turned to well-known foreign archaeologists and relevant organizations, foreign scientific centers are still afraid to send archaeological teams to Syria.