Back in 2005, an archaeological team from the University of Haifa uncovered the Burnt Church in Hippos, located in northern Israel. The church, which overlooks the Sea of Galilee, was destroyed by a fire around the 7th century. However, the mosaic floor has been kept in pristine condition beneath a layer of ash all these years.
Although the Burnt Church was discovered over 14 years ago, the team at Haifa only started digging this summer. One of the things they uncovered was a mosaic floor that depicts Jesus’ miracle when he fed 5,000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
Dr. Michael Eisenburg, head archaeologist of the dig, said: “There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament.”
Dr. Eisenburg mentioned that the Church of the Multiplication located in the northwest region of the Sea of Galilee is currently the spot in which historians believe the feeding of the 5,000 took place. However, after gleaning the New Testament scriptures more carefully, it’s quite possible the miracle occurred in Hippos instead.
“The mosaic at the Church of Multiplication has a depiction of two fish and a basket with only four loaves,” Dr. Eisenburg elaborated, “while in all places in the New Testament which tell of the miracle, there are five loaves of bread, as found in the mosaic in Hippos.”
He continued, “In addition, the mosaic at the burnt church has a depiction of 12 baskets, and the New Testament also describes the disciples who, at the end of the miracle, were left with 12 baskets of bread and fish.”
Hippos was also the site of a Greco-Roman city between the 3rd century BC and the 7th century AD. The city suffered great decline under Muslim rule and was eventually abandoned around 600 AD.
The Church was more than likely burnt down during a Sasanian conquest that occurred at the beginning of the 7th century. Around 749, an earthquake hit completely crumbling the hilltop, never to be occupied again.