A historical mosaic depicting Jesus feeding the five thousand has been unearthed in the ancient city near the Sea of Galilee.
The mosaic, believed to date back 1,500 years, has overjoyed archaeologists who have spent all summer searching the area for historical evidence.
The so-called Burnt Church in Hippos, norther Israel, was destroyed by fire in 700AD, however the mosaic-paved floor has been incredibly well preserved by a thick layer of ash ever since.
Hippos, which is in the heart of the Holy Land, overlooks the Sea of Galilee, where it was once the site of a Greco-Roman city.
The scenery depicted on the mosaic appears to support one of the miracles referred to in the New Testament, in which Jesus used just five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 people who gathered on the water banks.
A team from the University of Haifa found the Burnt Church in 2005, but only began the dig this summer.
As per MailOnline head archaeologist Dr Michael Eisenburg said:
There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament.
For example, from the fact that the New Testament has a description of five loaves in a basket or the two fish depicted in the apse, as we find in the mosaic.
He went on to say that the generally accepted location of the miracle might have to be reconsidered since the discovery of new evidence.
Dr Eisenburg continued:
Nowadays, we tend to regard the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha on the north-west of the Sea of Galilee as the location of the miracle, but with careful reading of the New Testament it is evident that it might have taken place north of Hippos within the city’s region.
According to the scripture, after the miracle Jesus crossed the water to the northwest of the Sea of Galilee, to the area of Tabgha/Ginosar, so that the miracle had to take place at the place where he began the crossing rather than at the place he finished it.
However, Eisenburg explains, the mosaic at the Church of Multiplication only depicts two fish and a basket of four loaves, while all New Testament tales of the miracle say there were five loaves of bread, like in the mosaic in Hippos.
Dr Eisenburg continued:
In addition, the mosaic at the burnt church has a depiction of 12 baskets, and the New Testament also describes the disciples who, at the end of the miracle, were left with 12 baskets of bread and fish.
There is no doubt that the local community was well familiar with the two miracles of Feeding the Multitude and perhaps knew their estimated locations better than us.
Hippos was abandoned in around 600AD, when an earthquake devastated the city, which lies at the top of a hill.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.