A newly-found mosaic in el-Araj, on the northern shore of Lake Kinneret in Israel, shows the most probable location of the city of Bethsaida and it could also indicate the home of Apostles Peter and Andrew, who were brothers.
A 1,500-year-old mosaic mentions the name of the basilica founder, Constantine, and a prayer addressed to Holy Apostle Peter. The basilica was built on the spot where the 5th-century founder believed it has been the home of Holy Apostles Peter and Andrew.
“This discovery is our strongest indicator that the basilica had a special association with St. Peter, and it was likely dedicated to him. Since Byzantine Christian tradition routinely identified Peter and Andrew’s home in Bethsaida, it seems likely that the basilica commemorates their home,” says Prof. R. Steven Notley from Nyack College, New York, who is the academic director of the el-Araj excavations.
The experts are not sure whether the founder’s information on the location of the apostles’ home was correct, but the discovery indicates el-Araj as the most probable location of the former city of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee.
Prof. R. Steven Notley from Nyack College, New York, and Prof. Mordechai Aviam, from Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, believe the church they discovered is the one mentioned in the 8th century by Bishop Willibald of Eichstätt, who took a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The city of Bethsaida disappeared from historical sources in the 4th and 5th centuries. One of the reasons may have been its disappearance from maps, caused by the variable level of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee).
Poto credit: Collage with photos by Prof. Mordechai Aviam
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