North Carolina State University archaeologist Thomas Parker believes he has uncovered remains of what may be the oldest church in the world, dating from the late third century, in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba.

Although other buildings used for Christian gatherings during the first century and a half following Jesus' ministry have been unearthed, Parker maintains these are the remains of "the earliest known building specifically designed as a church."

The church apparently crumbled during an earthquake in 363 and then was buried by desert sand until Parker's excavation team uncovered it. "It may offer valuable clues about early church architecture unavailable from many Near Eastern churches continuously remodeled since that period," Parker told CT.

German archaeologists working in Umm Qais, in northern Jordan, believe they have found the remains of another church, this one built to mark the miracle of the Gadarene swine. It is a five-aisled basilica similar in design to a dozen other churches, such as the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which mark significant events in the life of Christ. The church was built over the remains of a first-century tomb.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.