Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed what they claim is the world’s first church, dating back almost 2,000 years, The Jordan Times reported on Tuesday.
“We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD,” the head of Jordan’s Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.
He said it was uncovered under Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab in northern Jordan near the Syrian border.
“We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians — the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ,” Husan said.
These Christians, who are described in a mosaic as “the 70 beloved by God and Divine,” are said to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan, Husan added.
He cited historical sources which suggest they both lived and practised religious rituals in the underground church and only left it after Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers.