Israeli archaeologists discover possible evidence of Apostle Peter’s ancient home

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For Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Saint Peter occupies a place in the upper echelon of important religious figures, perhaps second only to Jesus Christ. Now, archeologists in Israel claim to have found evidence of the home of the man considered by many to have been the first Pope.

The discovery was made on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee at the el-Araj excavation site, which researchers believe may correspond to the Biblical village of Bethsaida. There, evidence has been found of a Byzantine-era basilica built around a wall dating back to the second or third century.

Byzantine churches were often built around sacred relics that were carefully preserved by the early Christians. Archeologists say this wall is too new to correspond to dwellings from Biblical times. But buried beneath the wall is another, dating back to the first century.

It’s this wall researchers believe may have helped form the home of the legendary Biblical figure.

The history of the site demonstrates the rich and complex history of the territory many religious traditions view as a Holy Land. The Byzantines were among the first to establish a presence in the area, but they were followed centuries later by European Crusaders.

Researchers think those Crusaders may have built a sugar factory on the site, unaware of its potential sacred significance. However, the factory may have also been built by Muslim inhabitants.

At any rate, the memory of the location as the potential site of Bethsaida was lost to time. That is, until now, as archeologists try to piece together evidence for what would represent one of the most significant archeological discoveries ever made.

The modern-day country of Israel and its surrounding territories are home to dozens of ancient sites with religious significance, a testament to the area’s history as a home for Christians, Muslims, and Jews, among others.

Recently, researchers were dismayed when an Israeli aerial strike hit a church in Gaza believed to be the third-oldest in existence. Preservationists have urged restraint as Israel’s military campaign against Hamas militants in the besieged enclave remains ongoing.

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