Israel: 1,500-year-old nunnery uncovered during IDF drill

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Archaeologists at an excavation site in the central city of Yavne, Israel, on November 29, 2021.
Yossi Aloni/FLASH90Archaeologists at an excavation site in the central city of Yavne, Israel, on November 29, 2021.

Several female skeletons were found at the site during previous excavation

An ancient nunnery with a 1,500-year-old mosaic was discovered in a training site in Harvat Hani, in central Israel, during a military drill, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Monday. 

A small section of the nunnery, which is believed to be the resting place of Prophet Samuel’s mother Hannah, was accidentally damaged by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Ynet reported. The main part of the building was discovered two decades ago by the IAA but remained hidden from the public for preservation purposes. 

“The previous excavation found two buildings, one of them being a church paved with a colorful mosaic detailing flora and fauna," IAA archeologist Issy Korenfeld was quoted as saying.

According to the researcher, the nunnery was probably built on top of an earlier church following the ancient tradition. 

"More findings included catacombs, the nunnery's main halls, an entry hall in front of the church and a tower with living quarters. The other building had a kitchen, an inn for crusaders and a refectory," he added, noting that after the IDF incident the agency will re-dig and clean the site. 

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As several female skeletons were found at the site during previous excavation, the archeologists believe local women requested to be buried there to lie near a holy figure.

Earlier in June, Israeli researchers discovered the second of the world’s oldest rural mosques in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the northern Negev. The first one was also found in Rahat in 2019. Both buildings are around 1,200 years old. 

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