Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

Excavations at Kefar 'Othnay

Principle Investigator: Yotam Tepper - The IAA & Tel Aviv University

From 2003-2008, the investigator carried out excavations at large settlement of Kefar 'Othnay (Legio) on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. In the western part of the modern Megiddo Prison compound a large structure identified as a Christian prayer hall was exposed. The 3rd-century building contained a mosaic floor with 3 dedicatory inscriptions. One of these texts identifies the benefactor as a Roman centurion named Gaianus. This connection between a Roman army officer and Christianity in a prayer hall is an extraordinarily unique find. The discovery predates the imperial recognition of Christianity as a legal religion and therefore contributes to our understanding of Christianity during this early period. Additionally, the findings are important to the study of the Roman army in the eastern empire, and shed light on a Christian community alongside a mixed Jewish-Samaritan settlement.


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