A large and well-preserved compound, that likely served as a monastery dating to the Byzantine period, was recently uncovered in Beit Shemesh, by Israel Antiquities Authority. The compound is surrounded by an outer wall and is divided on the inside into two regions, including an industrial area and an activity and residential area. The excavation’s co-directors said they believe the site served as a monastery, despite not finding a church or inscription of any kind indicating religious worship,
Zilberbod and Libman, lidding archaeologists, said “It is true we did not find a church at the site… or any other unequivocal evidence of religious worship; nevertheless, the impressive construction, the dating to the Byzantine period, the magnificent mosaic floors, window and roof tile artifacts, as well as the agricultural-industrial installations inside the dwelling compound, are all known to us from numerous other contemporary monasteries,”.
Moreover, Zilberbod and Libman said the finds revealed that the local residents were engaged in wine and olive oil production for their livelihood.
“The impressive size of the agricultural installations shows that these facilities were used for production on an industrial- scale, rather than just for domestic use,” they said.