New App Reveals a Glorious Church for a Mysterious Martyr


Megan Sauter
Email: [email protected]
1-800-221-4644 ext. 242


WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 27, 2021)—Have you ever wondered how archaeological sites looked before they turned to ruins?

Now you can by visiting the Church of the Glorious Martyr App website. The app allows you to explore the remains of a recently excavated Byzantine church and experience lifelike reconstructions. The Israel Antiquities Authority excavations at the Church of the Glorious Martyr near Ramat Bet Shemesh began four years ago and unearthed the remains of a large and impressive structure decorated with colorful mosaics. The church complex was constructed in stages during the sixth century C.E. and became an important stop for ancient pilgrims visiting the Holy Land.

After concluding excavations at the site, Benyamin Storchan, director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, teamed up with Roy Albag, architect and 3D researcher, to reconstruct the site. The reconstructions were created with the most advanced technologies and the best historical research. Notably, artifacts from the church excavations were incorporated into every level of the model. According to Storchan, “We wanted to create the most scientifically accurate model possible, and to do so we rebuilt the site using the artifacts and field data as the building blocks.”

The complete digital reconstruction of the church is now available to the public via a web-based app ( setup in cooperation with Wandering Inc. This immersive, interactive experience guides you through a lifelike 3D model of the church as it looked nearly 1,500 years ago via three tour options: a self-guided tour, an interactive video tour (best viewed with VR goggles), and a trivia-based tour.

Its release coincides with the first publication of the site featured in Biblical Archaeology Review magazine. See the full report in Benyamin Storchan’s article “A Glorious Church for a Mysterious Martyr,” published in the Fall 2021 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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