Stonemasons were asked to fashion six metre tall columns.
Miracle in stone
An Israeli archaeologist says he has found the site of a sixth century
miracle documented by the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea.
Recent construction in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Rehavia may have revealed the quarry that was home to this miracle. Under the foundations of an old building demolished to make room for new construction was a large stone chiseled in the shape of a column.
The Israel Antiquities Authority halted the construction project and began studying the find, which is six metres tall and 80cm wide.
In his book The Buildings of Justinian, Procopius recounts many building projects that were erected in the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great.
Describing the construction of Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos, a church near Jerusalem, Procopius says that God miraculously provided giant red stones near the construction site.
"God revealed a natural supply of stone perfectly suited to this purpose in the nearby hills, one which had either lain there in concealment previously, or was created at that moment.
“So the church is supported on all sides by a number of huge columns from that place, which in colour resemble flames of fire," he wrote.
This kind of stone is considered very difficult to work with. According to Prof Yoram Zafrir, it was hardly used until the introduction of explosives in the 19th century.
Evidently, the stonemasons had a hard time working with the stone, since the column was apparently left connected to the stone from which it was chiseled. Signs of other chiseled columns were also found on the site. This has led Prof Zahir to conclude that they were used in the construction of an impressive church, although not necessarily the Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos.
Posted June 29, 2012