A large elaborately-carved stone found during 2009 excavations of a newly uncovered Jewish synagogue in the town of Migdal on the north-western end of the Sea of Galilee. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

In a routine archeological sweep of a Galilee property being prepared for development, a treasure trove of first-century ruins were uncovered. The unearthed site, the New York Times reports, is thought to be Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene and an ancient Jewish town that was destroyed by the Romans around the same time as the Second Temple.

In 2004, Reverend Juan M. Solana, director of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, decided to build a gathering place for Christian pilgrims in the Galilee, the region believed to be the home of Jesus’ ministry. Building permits for more than 20 acres of Galilee land were finalized in 2009, and a salvage dig, which is required for all building projects in Israel, began.

Digging on the resort site revealed a wealth of holy ruins, including synagogue remains and ritual baths. Further excavation revealed an ancient marketplace and a fishermen’s neighborhood with its original equipment. Though the discoveries have forced Solana to alter his building blueprints, the resort’s construction is still underway.

When the pope visits Israel at the end of May, he will bless the new resort’s altar.

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