An Israeli prison is soon to be relocated in order to save an important Christian mosaic discovered beneath its floor, the earliest known archeological evidence that calls Jesus Christ divine

Jul 19, 2022 - 01:17
Nov 13, 2023 - 19:47

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:27-29 (ESV)

Hidden ‘Jesus Mosaic’ Found Under Prison Floor in Israel

In 2004, plans were made for new construction on the Megiddo Prison in northern Israel to add another prison wing. Archeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) were dispatched to do the required salvage dig ensuring no hidden archeological treasures would be endangered.

During this process, it was discovered that the Megiddo prison had been built over an amazing mosaic floor of an early Christian prayer hall, which had been carefully covered when the occupants left, with a layer of roof tiles and wall plaster to ensure preservation. The building shows no sign of destruction.

“The building was abandoned and nobody lived there again,” explained Dr. Yotam Tepper, who led the salvage dig and is now the IAA’s central region academic consultant. “Usually when people leave, others use the building, but here that did not happen.”

A conservationist from the IAA works on the “Jesus” mosaic. (credit: IAA)

Oldest Christian Prayer House Found Yet

Before established church buildings were introduced in the fourth century, after the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine, prayer halls such as the one discovered under the prison were located in Christian homes and were the center of the Christian community.

“This structure is interpreted as the oldest Christian prayer house in the world… and in fact, it tells the story of Christianity even before it became official,” said the IAA.

The most exciting inscription contained in the mosaic is the one which says, “to the God Jesus Christ.” This is extremely significant. Dated to AD 230, this is the first known archeological evidence of the early Christian belief that Jesus was divine.

Because of how rich in ruins and artifacts the site turned out to be and that the area had once been a site used by many cultures over several centuries, the dig went on for four years until 2008. During that time, more than 60 inmates from the Megiddo and Tzalmon prisons had the opportunity to work with Israeli archeologists and participate in the dig.  The excavation has been difficult and delayed for years because of the prison in use on top of it.

“When the Christian prayer hall was first found beneath the prison, we were all excited for one minute,” said Matthew Adams who has spent years excavating at Megiddo and is the director of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. “Then we realized, it’s in a maximum-security prison, so we’ll never actually be able to do anything with it.”

Finally, after years of requesting for the prison to be moved, the IAA announced that plans are being made to close the prison and move it to an entirely different location. Officials from the Megiddo Regional Council and the Israel Prison Service plan to have the relocation completed this summer. Archeologists will then have better access to further investigate the site and eventually open it for tourists.

The Importance of the “God Jesus Christ” Inscription

Three ancient Greek inscriptions were found on the mosaic by excavators and were deciphered by Dr. Leah De Signi. 

The western inscription is the most noteworthy of the three. It reads “The god-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial.” Besides the earliest archeological declaration of the Christian church’s belief that Jesus is God, the message also states that a woman, Akeptous, was the donor of the table used for the local Eucharist celebrations.

The reason the statement “God Jesus Christ” is so significant is that arguments have been made by critics that Jesus never claimed to be God and that the first Christians did not recognize or believe Jesus was divine. Skeptics argue that belief in the divinity of Jesus developed later as Christianity got further away from the actual events of Jesus’ life. Finding this early evidence that Christians did believe Jesus is God reinforces the credibility of the Bible.

Roman Inscription Shows Peaceable Relations

Another message on the mosaic located on the north side says that it was built with money donated by a Roman centurion named Gaianus, also called “Porophrius, our brother.” Amazingly, archeologists found that the Christian prayer hall sits on an ancient Jewish village that is right next to a Roman army legion camp and a Roman-Byzantine city.

“We have here archeological evidence of an early Christian community, whose members also included Roman army officers, from a period prior to the recognition of Christianity as a religion and years before it became the official religion of the empire,” the IAA explained on their website.

“All these factors allow us to examine questions relating to the development of the Christian religion before the Emperor Constantine, as well as issues connected with the Roman army in the eastern part of the empire in general, and the Land of Israel in particular.”

These amazing discoveries shed new light on the nature of Roman attitudes to the early church. Traditionally thought of as entirely hostile to the new Jewish cult called Christianity, nearby Roman military encampments suggest some tolerance to the new religion.

Not only were Romans found to be living near Christians, but the site revealed it was used by a mixture of other cultural, ethnic and religious populations. The Jewish village where the Christian prayer hall was located was found to have both Jewish and Samaritan residents.

“Through the excavations we learned about all the connections between Samaritans, Jews, pagans, Christians, soldiers and civilians,” Dr. Yotam Tepper told the Jerusalem Post. “To have neighborhoods of so many different religions and ethnicities in such geographical proximity to each other makes this very special,” continued Tepper.

“We see their houses next to each other which points to a good relationship,” he said. “Because of the presence of different religions here it is a very interesting place to excavate and learn about the relations between the different religions…it can be a very important contribution to our knowledge.”

Eastern Inscription and Fish Images

The eastern inscription of the mosaic is dedicated to the memory of four women, whose names were Frimilia, Kiriaka, Dorothea and Karasta. The reason for this dedication is unknown.

The mosaic also contains images of fish which were an early Christian symbol. The Greek name for fish was ‘Icthys.’ Each letter of the word forms the acronym, ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.’ The fish image also represents when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, who were fishermen, to follow him saying he would make them “fishers of men.”

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. – Matt. 4:18-20 (ESV)


Megiddo was settled as far back as 5,000 BC, making it one of the earliest occupied settlements in the Middle East. It was fortified by King Solomon and is mostly remembered for the battles that took place there. With such a fascinating history, some of which we are just now unearthing, Megiddo is also prophesied to have a fascinating future.

The book of Revelation says Mount Megiddo is the site of Armageddon where the last battle between good and evil will happen. At present the site is largely unoccupied, with only a small kibbutz, a community based on agriculture, and the prison with the amazing mosaic located there. It is enough to make us Keep on Thinking!

TOP PHOTO:  Inscription on prison mosaic which states “The god-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial.” (credit: Dr. Yotam Tepper / IAA)