Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 19 September |
Our Lady of La Salette
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

1,400-year-old Christian tombstone found in Israel reads “Blessed Maria”

J-P Mauro - published on 01/09/21

The woman was a resident of Negrev during the Byzantine Period.

A recent effort to clean up Nitzana National Park, in Southern Israel, has yielded an archaeological discovery. The team happened across a 1,400-year-old tombstone inscribed with the name of a Christian citizen of the Byzantine period. 

A report from Haaretz explains that the inscription reads: “Blessed Maria, who lived an immaculate life.” The inscription was written in Ancient Greek and was translated by Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The stone dated to between the 6th and 7th centuries is said to be only a part of the tombstone. 

The tombstone is only the latest to have been excavated from the area. This tombstone, as well as the others discovered in the area, are believed to have belonged to Christians who lived in the village of Nitzana.Smithsonian Magazine notes that Nitzana was once a center for a number of settlements in the area. In the 6th century, it was an important stop on a trade route, as well as a popular rest point for pilgrims on their way to Santa Katarina.

Very little is known of the history of this settlement, and experts believe the tombstone will help them to learn about the transition between the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. Pablo Betzer, the Israel Antiquities Authority Southern District archaeologist, said of the discovery:

“Unlike other ancient towns in the Negev, very little is known about the burial grounds around Nitzana. The find of any inscription such as this may improve our definition of the cemeteries’ boundaries, thus helping to reconstruct the boundaries of the settlement itself, which have not yet been ascertained.”

Learn more about the significance of this discovery at Haaretz.

Read more:
Archaeologists search for the grave of St. Edmund under tennis courts


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.