First-century ruins of a Galilean town thought to be the home of Mary Magdalene, where Jesus may have spent some time, have been uncovered on the site of a planned hotel, reports the New York Times.
Surveyors were conducting a routine archeological sweep of the property in anticipation of its development as a hotel when the remains of the town were unearthed.
The rediscovered holy site is thought to be the town of Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene. It was likely destroyed by Romans around the time of the fall of the second Temple. An excavated coin bears the date of 29 CE, when Jesus was thought to still be alive.
Jesus was known to have taught in Capernaum, a mere five mile journey from the dig site, and the Times cites “circumstantial evidence” that he may have been to Magdala as well.
The hotel has been in the works since 2004 and is a project of Reverend Juan M. Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.
He intended the property to serve as a lodging for Catholic pilgrims visiting the region. The building permits for the 20-acre site, which housed the former 1960s Hawaii Beach Resort, were acquired in 2009.
All Israeli construction projects required a salvage dig before groundbreaking, and it was during that stage that the ruins, which include a synagogue, ritual baths, and a villa with mosaics and frescoes, were uncovered.
The site also includes an ancient marketplace, harbor, and fishermen’s neighborhood.
The plans for the hotel have been adjusted to avoid interfering with the excavations, which are currently open to tours by the public. Pope Francis will bless the resort’s altar during his trip to Israel at the end of the month.
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