Excavations in the Byzantine basilica at Khibet Bureikut site in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem (Israel) revealed a colourful mosaic and various archaeological artefacts. The newly discovered artwork indicates that the church was originally built in the fourth century and that the inhabitants there were very wealthy. Artefacts recently discovered at the excavation include over five kilograms of glass items, pottery fragments, around 50 coins, including one of Alexander Jannaeus, and a handle with the seal of the Three Kings.
The basilica was equipped with drainage channels, a rare feature for Byzantine churches and an underground crypt with two staircases leading down to it, which is also a very rare feature. The Basilica has a prayer hall, aisles, a narthex running across the structure and an atrium with a big water hole. The church is built of massive stone blocks, suggesting that it was built on an earlier structure. It was built over a cave that was used for prayer that was later turned into a crypt. The place ceased to serve as a church after the early Muslim conquest but was renewed during reign of the Mamluks in 14th cent.
(after The Jewish Press)