HAIFA – A mosaic first discovered by inmates of the Megiddo Prison in 2005 will soon be on display to the public when an archeological park is opened on the former prison site.
The mosaic covers the floor of what is thought to have been the prayer hall of a Christian home in 230 A.D. An inscription declares “The God-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial.”
Dr. Yotam Tepper, formerly of the University of Haifa, speaking of the mosaic, said that there had been relatively little work done by 230 A.D. to establish church buildings. Believers typically gathered inside of houses, just as many do today in MENA and Asia.
The Israel government is close to turning the entire site of the former prison into an archeological tourist attraction. The mosaic will be on display along with remains of Roman encampments and seven flour mills erected during the Ottoman Empire.
The British-built Megiddo Prison had been built knowingly on top of the ancient ruins in the 1940s. It had covered what has come to be regarded as one of the oldest known places of Christian worship. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has identified the house in which the mosaic rests as a pre-church house of worship in what was the village of Kefar Othnay.
The significance of the mosaic is neither its well-preserved size nor its excellently-preserved condition but, rather its identification of Jesus Christ as God. Although it has yet to be definitively determined, several construction features of the home indicate that it may have been occupied primarily by Romans and quite possibly soldiers from the neighboring Roman camp.
If this is true, it would suggest that some soldiers stationed at the camp were open believers in Christ. There is no indication that the structure was hidden or concealed. It would also give us reason to believe that Christian had spread more widely among Roman troops than has previously been reckoned.
The Israel government is in the process of transferring inmates from the Megiddo Prison to newer, more modern facilities. Once that process is complete, an announcement concerning the opening of the archeological park should be forthcoming.