Israel Exploration Society

The New Church of Saint Mary, or simply the Nea Church, was one of the most impressive structures of Byzantine Jerusalem. Built on such an immense scale that it had to be supported by massive barrel vaults, the sixth-century C.E. church surpassed even the size and grandeur of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Unlike other churches in Jerusalem, however, the Nea was not constructed on a site of particular religious significance. Rather, as author Joan Taylor explains, the church was modeled after Solomon’s Temple and perhaps built for the sole purpose of housing the Temple treasures that had been lost to the Romans in 70 C.E. and only recently recovered for Byzantium.