A Byzantine Christian icon box made of bone with a cross carved on the lid was discovered on an excavated Jerusalem street, archaeologists said Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli archaeologists say they have found a
tiny, 1,400-year-old token of Christian faith in the excavation of an ancient road in Jerusalem.
The exquisitely made box of bone, less than one inch square, with a cross carved on the lid, was likely carried by a Christian believer around the end of the 6th century A.D.
When its lid is removed, the remains of two portraits are still visible in gold and paint -- a man and a woman, possibly Jesus and Mary.
Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority say the box is the first well preserved example of its kind and is important because it shows that icon use was not limited to church ceremonies in Byzantine times.
Similar icons are still carried today by some Christians from eastern Orthodox churches.
The relic was found in the City of David excavation, a Jerusalem
dig named for the biblical king.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)