(HAARETZ) -- Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a Byzantine basilica built under the Emperor Justinian and decorated with stunning mosaics and glass windows, as well as an inscription that dedicates the church to an unnamed “glorious martyr.” Who that was however remains a mystery.
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The 6th-century shrine was discovered ahead of building a new neighborhood in the town of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem. It has been undergoing salvage excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority for three years, archaeologists said at an unveiling of the site on Wednesday.
The church remained a popular pilgrimage destination through the early Islamic period. That in and of itself contributed to a longstanding debate among scholars about how violent and sudden the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land was, and the subsequent conversion of the population.