Archeologist have discovered a cave underneath the world’s oldest church, St. George Church. This cave dates back to 33-70 AD and is believed to be used as a church by 70 disciples of Jesus after the death of Jesus Christ making it the oldest site of Christian worship in the world. The cave has a circular worship area with stone seats. This is separated from a living area that had a tunnel connecting to a body of water. Outside experts are using extreme caution before backing this claim for several reasons. Firstly, there is debate whether St. George is one of the oldest churches. It is not universally accepted that St. George was built in 230 AD because this is 200 years earlier than any other known church. In addition, there needs to be clear evidence of 1st century occupation of the cave as a place of worship. The cave may have been used for different purposes then later converted to a place of worship. However, there is a mosaic on the floor of St. George referring to “the 70 beloved by God and the divine.” But, mosaics are hard to date unless there is a specific date in the mosaic itself and typically mosaic inscriptions with Christian themes are from the 5th and 6th centuries. If this cave is proved to be used in the first century for early Christian worship then it would be an important milestone for Christian roots in Jordan.
The St. George church is known for its Madaba Mosaic Map. This mosaic is a detailed map of Jerusalem at the height of the Byzantine period dating back to the middle of the 6th century. The mosaic map provides important details of landmarks and the physical layout of Jerusalem. A virtual tour of the places depicted in the Madaba Mosaic Map can be viewed here.