Israeli archaeologists have discovered a magnificent and rare 2,000-year-old Roman basilica, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Monday.
The basilica complex, largest of its kind found inside Israel, was unearthed in a national park located at the southwestern city of Ashkelon.
“The basilica was founded by Herod the Great, and one historical source suggests that his family came from Ashkelon,’’ the IAA said.
The huge basilica building is covered with a roof and divided into a central hall and two side ones.
The halls were surrounded with rows of marble columns and capitals, which rose to an estimated height of 13 metres and supported the building’s roof.
The floor and walls were also built of marble.
In total, 200 marble items weighing hundreds of tonnes have been found at the site, according to the IAA.
An ancient theater, sculptures and Roman coins were also found.
The basilica was devastated in an earthquake in 363 AD, with the effects of the seismic waves clearly visible on the building’s floor, the IAA said.