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Greek Inscription Uncovered in 1,500-year-old Mosaic Floor in Jerusalem

Archaeologists think it will help them understand Justinian's building projects in the city

The Greek inscription cites Justinian and Constantine
A conservationist works on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor bearing Greek writing, discovered near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as it is displayed at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA
  • A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered in Jerusalem’s old city
  • The inscription cites sixth-century Roman Emperor Justinian as well as Constantine
  • Justinian was one of the most important rulers of Byzantine era

Jerusalem, August 24, 2017: A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered during works to install communications cables in Jerusalem’s Old City — a rare discovery of an ancient relic and a historic document in one.

The inscription cites sixth-century Roman Emperor Justinian as well as Constantine, who served as abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem. Archaeologists think it will help them understand Justinian’s building projects in the city.

The full inscription reads: “The most pious Roman emperor Flavius Justinian and the most God-loving priest and abbot, Constantine, erected the building in which [this mosaic] sat during the 14th indiction.”

Indiction is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. Archaeologists said the inscription suggests the mosaic dated to A.D. 550-551.

Justinian was one of the most important rulers of the Byzantine era. In A.D. 543, he established the Nea Church in Jerusalem, one of the biggest Christian churches in the eastern Roman Empire and the largest in Jerusalem at the time.

“The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle,” David Gellman, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

Also read: Israeli Archaeologists Discover 2,000-year-old Stone Factory in Galilee

He added that every archaeologist dreams of finding an inscription in excavations, “especially one so well-preserved and almost entirely intact.”

Researchers think the building of which the mosaic was once part, located beside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, was used as a hostel for pilgrims.

The mosaic, which was unveiled to the media Wednesday, was discovered this summer. Conservation experts have removed the mosaic and are treating it in a specialist workshop. (VOA)

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World’s Oldest Board Game Backgammon Being Used by Jerusalem Double to unite Jews and Arabs

Backgammon is acting as a peace maker between Israelis and Palestinians. Every one in Middle-East irrespective of one's religion has an attachment with this game.

Backgammon- An ancient board game that is acting as a bond to unify Jews and Arabs.
Backgammon- An ancient board game that is acting as a bond to unify Jews and Arabs. Pixabay.
  • An ancient game turning out to be a peace maker between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem
  • Backgammon is a deeply rooted game in the Middle-East, which is uniting segregated neighbors
  • Backgammon is one of the oldest board games in the world

Jerusalem, September 11, 2017: No one had ever imagined the power of Backgammon. And about how this ancient game could act as a game changer in the Middle-East.

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest board games that is currently being used to bring back peace in the Middle-East.

Jerusalem Double project is a series of Backgammon tournament that takes place in Jerusalem. It is an inter cultural initiative by Jerusalem Foundation to create more interaction between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Israel is the only Jewish state in the world which is located just at the east of Mediterranean Sea. Jew is a word used for those people who profess Judaism irrespective of the place they live in.

Palestinians consist of the Arab population that hails from the land which is now controlled by Israel. They want to establish a state by the name “Palestine” on all or part of the land, which is currently controlled by Israel.

“We wanted to bring Jews and Arabs together beyond the daily grind. We wanted to create a joint cultural event in which everyone can share and we wanted to create cross over between neighborhoods that for generations have been completely segregated”, believes Zaki Djemal from Jerusalem Foundation.

Jerusalem Double chose Backgammon as a medium to break the walls between the Jews and Arabs because Backgammon is deeply rooted in the Middle-east. It is highly accessible and inclusive.

Initially, the project Jerusalem Double had faced a lot of resistance from both the communities. But, they went against the wind and left no stone unturned to make this project work. As a result, the Backgammon proved to be a catalyst towards a positive change.

In 2106, when the first Backgammon championship had happened, only 150 people showed up. But this time, 250 people participated in the tournament and competed for a cash prize of 6,000 USD.

Play can create empathy between strangers and apparent enemies and it can give us the confidence that we need to trust in each other and in the world we have been slighted, even after we have experienced pain, suffering, and fear said Zaik Djemal.

Backgammon is an outstanding initiative towards a peaceful morning in the Middle-East.

-prepared by Shivani Chowdhary of NewsGram. Twitter handle: @cshivani31

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PM Narendra Modi meets 3 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees in Jerusalem

PM Narendra Modi
Projecting his government’s success in the areas of fighting terror and graft, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that there has not been a single blot of corruption against his regime. Source:

Jerusalem, July 6, 2017: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met three prominent Indian-origin Israelis who are recipients of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.

“Living bridges of excellence between #IndiaIsrael. PM meets three Pravasi Bharatiya Samman awardees from Israel,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted.

Modi, who is on a three-day visit to Israel, met Eliyahu Bezalel, Sheikh Ansari and Dr Lael Anson Best.

Bezalel, who hails from Kochi, is the first Israeli of Indian-origin to receive the award in 2005. He has distinguished himself as an eminent agriculturist.

ALSO READ: First Hindi and now English, the Language War in Karnataka Continues

Ansari, who manages the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem, was honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2011.

Best, an accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon, was conferred with the award in 2017.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (Overseas Indian Honour/Award) is instituted by the Indian government to honour Indian-origin people abroad for their exceptional and meritorious contribution in their chosen field and profession. (IANS)

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My yoghurt sticks are not offensive!


By Rebecca McCourtie

Despite the title of this series, I have always considered myself to be a good girl. Sure I have done the odd naughty thing on occasion, like had one too many vinos or dropped the F-bomb when it hasn’t been appropriate to do so, BUT I pride myself on the fact that I am on the verge of 30 and I have never been ‘kicked-out’ of anything. I have never been kicked-out of a bar. I have never been kicked-out of a pub or a club. I have never been kicked-out of a cinema. Fact is, I have never been kicked out of anything because I am a good girl… well, until today! Today I was kicked out of a church!

rebecca 4Allow me to back-peddle if I may and explain to you where exactly I am. Contrary to my assertion above, I did a naughty thing. I came to Jerusalem. I came to Jerusalem even though I told my Mum I wouldn’t. You see, my Mum and I have a very close relationship. I tell my Mumma err-thing about err-thing. The one thing she didn’t want me to do was visit any place that might be dangerous. Given the media coverage we get in Australia, this included Jerusalem. OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking: ‘cut the cord already.’ It may seem odd for some that I have a metaphorical umbilical cord attached to my Mum that has lasted thirty odd years and crosses continents, but I wouldn’t have my relationship with her any other way. That ol’gal has had my back through everything. From my first steps as a baby to my giant leaps around the world, that woman has been, and continues to be my solid! I would never want to do anything that might cause her to fret over me. So you will understand when I say: I lied out of love. I couldn’t come to Israel and not see Jerusalem!

I didn’t plan to go initially, but once over here I saw that all the tourists were visiting and no one seemed to tell me that it was dangerous. In fact, quite the opposite. Given that Jerusalem is one of Israel’s biggest tourist revenue sources, it is the most highly guarded and security present area. So you see, I have never lied before and I never plan to lie again, but on this occasion I thought it best to save everyone the angst. So I am here in Jerusalem and I have just been kicked out of a church!

rebecca 3Essentially I spent my day just wandering the streets. I didn’t really have a plan to tick every box on the tourist map, I just wanted to wander and absorb the atmosphere. I think that is always the best way to get a feel for a city. So, as I wandered I happened to wander upon the Coptic Patriarchate. From the outside, the old stone building with all its intricate carvings and awnings looked breathtakingly spectacular. Naturally I decided to wander inside for a closer look. As I walked through the stone arch entrance I stopped to watch the people mid-praise/prayer/worship or whatever you like to call it. I am not very religious. I like to think of myself more as a spiritual soul. I basically try and live a good life of kindness and love. I don’t feel the need to partake in organized faith. I do, however think it beautiful for those who do.

As I stood and watched people kneel at the base of a stone slab, I wondered what, or rather who it was. ‘Was it meant to be Jesus?’ I thought to myself, simultaneously walking around the site to try and catch glimpse of a plaque that might answer my query. I didn’t even get half way around the bloody thing when a scary looking priest ran up to me and said: ‘no, no, no- you OUT! You come back covered.’

‘WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED IN THIS HOLY HOUSE’ I thought to myself as I was being enthusiastically ushered back out of the stone arch I had walked through moments earlier. The dude had to be joking. There were men walking around in shorts the exact same length as mine, but apparently I was the only one causing offense. I mean, common! It was just my knee-caps and a little bit of thigh. Jesus came from a time when people didn’t even wear panties, and here I was being told that the modestly covered yoghurt sticks I call legs were offensive! It was outrageous! Anyone would have thought that I was wearing arse-munchers and sporting a mad camel-toe with the reaction the priest afforded me. Not to mention the fact that my legs were far more decent than the veiled woman who was practically dry humping the tomb at the very same moment I was being kicked-out! I just wanted a quick walk through and then out. Unlike her, I had no immediate intention of physically mounting and crotch-thrusting any part of the interior. Alas, I was still deemed the offensive one and escorted out of the presence of the Lord in my shorts that were ‘too short.’

I was angry that the men who were wearing shorts the same length as mine were allowed to remain inside. Was I inappropriate because I was a woman? Surely the priests had more respect for men than that. To deem my legs a distraction was to undermine the intelligence and the perceived level of inherent self-restraint in men. It was a disgrace that even in today’s day and age my gender was an issue.

rebecca 1This little saga stands as a stark contrast to my time in Tiberias, where the man I was volunteering for took me and a few other volunteers to a hippie gathering/ kibbutz. That was a place where clothing wasn’t mandatory, but rather forbidden. I have never seen so many naked people in one concentrated area before. The smorgasbord of bodies was amazing. People come in all different shapes and sizes, literally (and I don’t mean just THAT part of the person)! Up and until that point, I had always thought of myself as slightly hippie/ alternative. I mean, I travelled to India for crying out loud! I was totally spiritual and alternative! Right? WRONG! I realized as all the hippies embraced each other and lay uninhibited in the water with their ‘privates’ not so private, that my ‘alternativeness’ stretched as far as buying organic fruit and veg from the market and occasionally rubbing coconut oil into my hair, not bosom bumping with a complete stranger on an elevated rock in the middle of the Jordan River. Needless to say I broke the rules and kept my clothes on. I need at least dinner and a few drinks before I take my clothes off for anyone!

I leave Israel in less than 48-hours. I am ready to leave. I have had some good and some bad experiences while roaming the ‘Holy Land.’ The Orthodox Jewish man who shoulder bumped me into the gutter in Tiberias and didn’t say sorry= BAD! The lovely Israeli ladies who I met in Poland and who invited me to stay at their house= AMAZING! Let me tell you, you know that you have met a quality pseudo-aunty in Israel when you leave her house hobbling from the weight of your over-stuffed belly.

So yes, Israel has been a mixed bag of adventures that I feel has definitely enriched my life. It is time to go though. Given that the Mediterranean weather has turned my hair into kindling and I now pose a fire danger every time I walk out into the sun, leaving for a cooler climate is in the best interest of my personal safety and that of those who are in my immediate surroundings.

Until we speak again…

One response to “My yoghurt sticks are not offensive!”

  1. Hi there
    My name is Udi, a tour guide form Jerusalem. Spent there most of my adult life and I find your post fasaniting
    Visiting the old city is the closet experience to time travel you can have. And when you visit the Coptic church dating back to the first centuries you should remember that you’re a time traveller from the 21st century and they’re… not.
    Visiting Jerusalem without an awareness of its history and importance to western culture is a big miss. Sure you can walk the streets and get the vibe like any other city, but you’ll miss Jerusalem.
    Coming from down under I guess it will be a long while until you’ll come back, but you’re staying around this hamosphire I invite you to redo Jerusalem, with my local advices and tips.

    And a word for your mum, TV and papers sell ads. Their job is to exaggerate and make money off disasters and violence, better talk to the locals

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