MAGDALA, Israel (CNN) – In Israel, an ancient town is being uncovered that historians believe was home to a famous biblical figure.
Gospels describe Mary Magdalene as a witness to both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Before an early morning dig to discover the roots of Christianity, volunteers pray in the ruins of the ancient town of Magdala.
Each swing of the pick axe is an effort to uncover what life was like some two thousand years ago .
Historians believe Jesus may have once walked the town’s cobbled streets, and say Magdala may have been home to one of the most important figures of the bible, Mary Magdala, the first recorded witness of the Resurrection.
At least, that’s the opinion of Father Juan Solana.
“This is a holy site, I am sure of that.”
Six years ago, Father Solana purchased the land to build a Christian retreat.
Israeli law required him to excavate, and completely by chance he discovered a first century synagogue.
Scriptures say Jesus preached in the Synagogues of Galilee. This is the only synagogue to have been discovered in the area from that time period, so it’s possible that Jesus preached here.
It’s considered ornate, with mosaic flooring and frescoes.
“It is not for me,” said Solana. “This is for millions of people that will come see this, will enjoy this as I did, and hopefully will be able to discover our common roots at the center.”
Then, there is the altar or bimah, what is now called the Magdala Stone.
“This is the first time ever a menorah carved in stone has been found out of Jerusalem,” said Solana.
Magdala may be one of the most important finds discovered in Israel in the last fifty years.
Archaeologist uncovered a bowl, some 2000 years old, that they say Jesus may have used to wash his hands before entering the synagogue to pray.”
Archeologist dr. Marcela Zapata said the town’s purification baths still work to this day.
They’ve also found coins, and are working to restore pottery.
“Each piece tells a story about the common life,” said Zapata. “About the cooking, about the materials.”
And about the intersection of Judaism and Christianity