Shlomo Ammami, Asaf Peretz, Abraham Hai/Courtesy Staff Officer of Archaeology

A PLACE FOR PILGRIMS’ PRAYERS. When a way station was first established on the site in the Byzantine period, a basilical church was also built just north of the current inn to provide a place for visiting pilgrims to pray. The church’s floor was uncovered in 1934, and over the next 70 years, nearly the entire mosaic floor had disappeared, little by little, as visitors took the small stone tesserae with them as keepsakes from their visit. Thanks to some old photos of the church, however, the excavators were able to restore and fully reconstruct the geometric patterns of the mosaic floor. The remains of the church have also been preserved and protected so that modern pilgrims can still rest and pray here. Seen here from the semicircular apse of the nave, the basilica had aisles on either side, separated from the nave by rows of columns.