Archaeologists have discovered a secret passage where the early churches hid and evaded persecution from the Roman government.
Shelter Hidden Inside Secret Passage
According to Fox News, archaeologists recently recounted the discovery of a secret gathering place, which history showed was the remains of a shelter and a gathering place provided to Christians by early churches, dating back to the 3rd to 4th century AD.
The underground tunnel is located in Manbij, an old city in Syria. Archaeologists believe that it was the hiding place for persecuted Christians during the Roman Empire period.
The excavation project lasted for many years and the ruins were discovered for the first time in 2014, however, due to Islamic State occupied Syria, the archeological work stopped for two years. The excavation project restarted in August last year, one year after the Islamic State militia were expelled from the area.
Archaeologists found a narrow passage and escape route in the ancient ruins, which might have been used for sending secret messages to the believers. There was also a secret door made with large stones and a temporary altar with steps. There were crosses and texts engraved on the pillars and stone walls.
The ruins contain a cemetery for burying pastoral staff. Human bones were found in the large graves made of stone. Archaeologists speculated that the cemetery was also used for Christian gathering and worship.
Christians being Accepted; Secret Gathering Place Abandoned
The archaeological team found a second site. There were 11 stone steps to go down, many rooms underneath and Christian symbols everywhere. On the wall, there were crosses in geometric designs used during the Roman period which might have been engraved by Christians after the government accepted Christianity. Therefore, it is speculated that the secret gathering place was no longer used after a period.
Dr John Wineland, Associate Professor of History at the Southeastern University, PhD in Ancient History and a registered professional archaeologist, pointed out that when early Christians evangelized, they included "eat the body of Christ and drink His blood", therefore they were often misunderstood as cult believers. The Roman government did not accept Christianity and they deemed the Christian faith illegal.
Dr Wineland believes that Christians gathered underground to avoid trouble until 313AD when Constantine the Great, legalized Christianity so they no longer needed to worship in the secret passage. The underground gathering place was gradually abandoned and became historical ruins of Christianity.
(Translated from Chinese.GospelHerald.com)