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Jubail Church is the oldest still remaining church in the world, located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. It dates to the 4th century. It was discovered in 1986. The government hides it from locals and bans foreigners from visiting it, even archaeologists. It is an ancient Assyrian church possibly of the Nabatean culture.
In 1986, people on a desert picnic discovered the ruins of a church near the city of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, while digging one of their trucks out of the sand. The church is believed to have been built prior to A.D. 400, making it older than most churches in Europe. It was likely associated with one of five bishoprics existing on the shores of the Arabian Sea during the term of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople and founder of the heresy that bears his name.
Anyone familiar with contemporary Latin and Eastern Rite Catholic church buildings will recognize the basic design. The foundation marks for roof support columns in the main room easily identify it as the nave of a church. Probably, the roof was a thatch of palm branches supported by risers and crossbeams about a foot above the walls for sunlight and ventilation. The congregation would have entered through the main doorway at the west side of the nave and assembled, women standing to the right and men to the left, facing east toward the sanctuary (the middle of the three smaller chambers") where the altar would have been.
At the doorways to the sacristy, sanctuary, chapel, and the main entrance, stone crosses were attached to the wall. These four crosses, in place during the early excavation, disappeared in late 1986 or early 1987. Over the years since the discovery, the desert has erased even the marks left when the crosses were removed.
The ruins are known as the Jubail Church and are acknowledged by the Saudi government, who will not issue permits to visit it because 'the site is being excavated.'
In any case, the original ruins contained four stone crosses, which later went missing, though the marks where the crosses were are still visible. The ruins are thought to date from the 4th century, which make them older than any known church in Europe. Not much else is known but speculation is that it was in some way connected to one of the five Assyrian Church of the East bishoprics which are known to have existed in this area of the Gulf in the 4th century.
The photographs were taken by Robert and Patricia McWhorter during 1986 shortly after the ruins were partially excavated and protected by the Saudi Department of Antiquities.
Originally posted by zazzafrazz
There are older churches, recently for example dating from the third century, in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba a church was found.
Other buildings used for Christian gatherings during the first century and a half following Jesus' ministry have been unearthed, this Jordain church is thought to be the oldest specifically built for prayer.
The church crumbled during an earthquake in 363 and then was buried by desert sand since.
Megiddo,and Mt Nebo, only mosaic floors and some columns have been uncovered dating falso rom the 3rd century AD.
Christian rituals were prohibited in the Roman Empire prior to the year 313 AD however the catacombs of Rome forexample where they buried their dead are indeed considered a church, these date back to 50 AD.
Either way, The Suadi Church is an important archaeoloigical site. This little pearler you've shown still has walls!! Thank you, its adorable.
It looks like it does have work being undertaken I can see clearing or upkeep of pushing back the sands. I'll make some enquiries.
Originally posted by Majiq
Any really old buildings that they find are cool, but as far as this being shocking in some way or a reason for a Muslim nation to be embarrassed by it, I just don't understand why.
This church is from the 4th century so Saudi Arabia wasn't a Muslim nation at that time. Also I think someone needs to update wiki, as according to your quote it states that not even archaeologists are allowed there which obviously not true.
Originally posted by blupblup
Here are a couple of Articles on the Jordanian Church.
Originally posted by kiwifoot
It really is a big deal to them, a Christian Church in the middle of the birthplace of Islam.
All the best, Kiwifoot!
Originally posted by Majiq
If it is such a big deal to them then why are they excavating it?
I'm not say that it isn't as I don't know, but if I were the ruler there, and it was that big of an issue to me I would just destroy whatever was left of the church, and be done with it.
Originally posted by Skyfloating
Beautiful. You think its being hushed up?