There are so many fascinating things you can learn about early Christianity from this site. I just did a little bit of research on it, and it turns out that the Dead Sea Scrolls actually date to the fourth century A.D.
This is the first time that there’s been any kind of archaeological evidence or archaeological proofs of ancient Christianity (or any other early church) in the desert for almost 2,000 years. The Dead Sea Scrolls show us that Jewish Christians were alive and well in Palestine in the fourth century, not just a couple thousand years ago.
If you want to see what early Christianity was like before Christianity became a part of mainstream culture, here’s your chance to do so right now!
Who Built the Site?
A large building in the desert, a mountain and a river are not the sort of places that you would expect to have been built by early Christians. But they were.
And they did so with incredible speed: within less than a decade, the Christian community in this region had not only built an entire city (dubbed “the City of David” by locals), but it also immediately began constructing monastic structures, most notably in its capital of Jerusalem.
The site itself was named for its location between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D., during the period known as “the Early Church,” when Christianity first gained widespread support from mainstream religious leaders. The exact date is unknown, but it is estimated to have taken place between A.D. 500 and 600, shortly before the first Council of Nicaea (which took place at the end of that period). This occurred after the Council of Laodicea (in A.D. 431).
The site was about 200 kilometers distant from Jerusalem, on the eastern shore of Lake Tiberias (which is now called Yarmuk) in what was then known as Perea Province (now part of Jordan). While some would argue that this small village was not worthy enough to be a metropolis, it is clear that early Christians were truly serious about finding ways to evangelize this remote region — so serious that they chose to build their own city right next door to their main religious center in Jerusalem!
The site itself consisted of three distinct areas:
• The City Temple — which housed multiple churches, monastic cells and other buildings
• A large complex north-westward from this temple consisting primarily of monastic cells which were used for prayer and study as well as housing various religious officials such as monks who served at other shrines in Jerusalem like Mount Zion or Cholula
• A vast sea area known as “the Jordan basin” due to its proximity to several different rivers and lakes including Lake Tiberias where boats could travel easily along its shores for cargo or travel purposes
This image shows just one section within this vast complex:
It may look like two hills; but these are actually two different hills on opposite sides of one another with an administrative building located on top of one hill while a church stands on top of the other hill. The administrative building sits on top because it was intended primarily for governmental operations: it housed councils and government officials among
Who Used the Site?
If you have read any of my previous posts, you’ll know that I am fascinated by ancient communities; and the way in which they used ICT. One of the questions I have been pondering recently is how these communities managed to survive the rise and fall of their respective empires. What happened to them? Are they still around today? It turns out one of the sites that is still standing is a fascinating early Christian community, active between the fourth and eighth centuries A.D., called Lorsch Abbey .
The Lorsch Abbey community was built with two specific purposes in mind:
1) To secure an endowment for building a church and monastery on behalf of Saint Gallen or St. Gallen in Switzerland (the site is actually near Lake Constance)
2) To build a large number of cells for monastic communities at various locations around what is now Germany, Austria and Switzerland — including Lorsch Abbey.
It has been described as “”…a community based upon a religious ideal, which was formed by its members to reach that ideal through prayer, work, contemplation and missionary work””. As such, it has long been identified as one of the greatest early Christian communes. The term “communalism” itself comes from this sense of communal ideals (“communion” being Latin for “covenant”).
The source material for this blog post comes from an article written by Daniel Pinchbeck about his recent visit to Lorsch Abbey . Check it out!
What Happened to the Site?
The first Christian communities in the Roman Empire were small and often disintegrated due to internal strife and persecution. One exception was the site of Ephesus (modern-day Izmir, Turkey).
A few years ago, through some luck, a young archaeologist named James Mellaart (now Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh) stumbled upon this church in an excavation that was going on nearby. He decided to take a closer look and found that it was still standing. The church had been abandoned for several centuries, but not before it had acquired a reputation as one of the most vibrant Christian sites in antiquity. What’s more, he discovered that the site continued to be active well into the fifth century A.D., when Christianity became the dominant religion in Roman Asia Minor (Izmir is located on the Asian side of this region). The activity there continued even after Constantine I declared Christianity a legal religion in A.D. 324; according to legend, he explicitly forbade any further development or worship at this site but instead concentrated on building Constantine’s palace nearby and converting his relatives to Christianity himself. This added to its already significant legacy as one of the largest Early Christian sites outside Rome with multiple churches, monasteries…and an amphitheater!
This is just one example of many archaeological discoveries around today’s world where we are still discovering things we didn’t even know we knew: how different cultures interacted with each other long ago; how ancient civilizations laid out their cities; how they built roads…even when they didn’t want anyone else to build them!
I’m going to skip over the Q&A and go straight to the conclusion.
The whole process of discovery and learning is a long journey that might take you years or decades — even lifetimes — to complete. For me, it was about a decade, but I’m not counting that “long journey” in this one.
If those of us who are reading this post are lucky, it will be bookended by two discoveries: one about how my dad got into the business, and one about how we got so lucky with our mentors and friends. If you read this far, I hope you have learned something new along the way. If you haven’t — well, I guess we’ll just have to keep exploring!