Construction workers in Gaza recently discovered ancient ruins that archaeologists suspect may be part of a Byzantine church dating as far back as 1,500 years ago. The findings include a foundation stone bearing a Greek symbol for Christ. “Our first thought is that the site is a cathedral or a church from the Byzantine period,” says Jamal Abu Rida, the general director of the antiquities ministry.”During that era, there was a great interest among the Byzantine rulers to build churches in the Gaza Strip.”
During the Roman period, Gaza was a prosperous seaport with a diverse population of Greeks, Romans, Jews, Egyptians and Persians. There was widespread church-building until 637 AD when Muslim general Amr ibn al-As conquered Gaza, and subsequently most of the population adopted to Islam.