Byzantine-era "miraculous quarry" found in Jerusalem


Israeli archaeologists claim they have found the miraculous quarry documented by the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea, who in his book "Justinian's constructions”, He reviews the large number of projects erected during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great, in the mid-6th century. Of special interest is the construction of the "Nea Ekklesia of Theotokos” (a church built near Jerusalem), to which God provided large red rocks for its edification, according to Procopius.

The text of the Byzantine historian is as follows: “God revealed a natural supply of stone perfectly devised for his purpose in the nearby hills, a supply that had remained hidden or that was created at that time (...) The church is supported on all sides with a large number of tall columns formed with rocks from that supply, which have a color that resembles the flames of fire (…) Two of those columns are in front of the door of the church and are exceptionally long and incomparable with other columns in the world”.

The works of the Rehavia neighborhood in Jerusalem could have revealed the location of the miraculous quarry described by Procopius. A long column-shaped stone has appeared under an old building that was being demolished. Due to the discovery of the column, the Israel Antiquities Authority has halted construction and has begun studying the find. The column is estimated to be 6 meters high and has a diameter of 30 centimeters. These proportions correspond to the architecture used in Byzantine times.

However, no more objects could be retrieved to help determine the exact date of the column. Evgeny Kagan of the Antiquities Authority, based on the type of stone and the methods used by stonemasons, believes that belongs to the Byzantine period. In addition, it is engraved with the Arabic name "Mizi Achmar", meaning Red stone and that would correspond to the "fire flames”Described by Procopius.

In any case, experts highlight the difficulty of working with this type of stone. According to Professor Yoram Zafrir, except for the Byzantine era, it was a type of flint that could not be used until the application of explosives in the 19th century. As an example, the academic puts the builders of the Jerusalem Temple, who used a softer stone.

The first investigations have also revealed several adjacent signs. These would correspond to the extraction of other columns. Professor Zafrir believes that they were used in the construction of an impressive church, although I would not necessarily attribute it to the Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos described by Procopius.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was a child he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

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