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Working in tandem, the rare multidisciplinary partnership of scholars is drawing from their respective fields to paint a comprehensive picture of 4th-5th century Christian life in the region.They have already “hit the jackpot” in their first season, with seven lengthy 1,600-year-old Greek inscriptions, said Aviam.There are indications that the villagers were originally pagan converts, said Aviam.“They don’t have ‘Jewish’ names, which tells us that if they were Jews that converted to Christianity, they likely changed their names,” he said.Associates of Nestorius such as Irenaeus saw their fates rise and fall alongside their friend.Until the discovery of the mosaic this summer, it was unclear in which year Irenaeus was ordained as bishop of Tyre.(For fear of vandals, their exact locations are being withheld.) Decorated with a peacock, the five-meter long Greek inscription is the largest found in the area.

However, since he was historically thought to be exiled along with Nestorius to Petra for 12 years in 436 — “along with two horses to carry their luggage” — the authors present a strong case for a later date.

Nestorius was vilified for speaking against the “Theotokos,” the philosophy that Jesus’s mother Mary was the “God-bearer.” Instead, he promoted a radical idea that she gave birth to a human who was divine.

This ideological conflict laid ground for a decades-long battle and eventual schism in the Byzantine period church.

According to Aviam, much can be learned through the inscriptions about the villagers who commissioned the mosaics.

Written in Byzantine period Greek, they are “full of mistakes in Greek,” he said.

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