June 30, 2009, Updated September 24, 2012

Jun. 30 –  The largest artificial underground cave in Israel, has been exposed in the Jordan Valley in the course of a survey carried out by the University of Haifa’s Department of Archaeology. The enormous cave covers an area of about one acre. It is 100 meters long, about 40 meters wide, and three meters high. It is located not far from Jericho. The cave, which is supported by 22 giant pillars, was discovered in the course of an archaeological survey which the University of Haifa began in 1978. Prof. Adam Zertal, who headed the excavating team, believes the cave was originally a large quarry during the Roman and Byzantine era and date it back to around 1-600 AD. At a later stage it is likely to have been used as a monastery. Various engravings were uncovered in the cave, including cross markings and symbols of the zodiac. The team also discovered Roman letters. Zertal believes the cave could be the site of Galgala from the historical Madaba Map ? a Byzantine mosaic map found in Jordan, which is the most ancient map of Israel.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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