The site, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is richly decorated with brightly colored mosaics and inscriptions referring to Jesus Christ.
The church dates to the late 4th century, making it one of Christianity's first formal places of worship, said the team, led by Yitzhak Magen and Yevgeny Aharonovitch.
The site contains an unusual inscription that refers to itself, Shiloh, by name. Aharonovitch says this shows early Christians treated the site as an ancient, holy place.
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the two tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, was kept by the Israelites at Shiloh for several hundred years.
It was eventually moved to the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem Temple that the Bible says King Solomon built around 1000 B.C. When the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians 400 years later, the Ark was lost, prompting theories about whether it was hidden or destroyed.
The team at Shiloh is considering whether to dig under the mosaics that they have uncovered, in order to seek traces of the Ark.
Jewish residents in the modern settlement of Shiloh nearby want the team to keep digging. They believe the dig would eventually uncover remains from the “time of the Tabernacle," referring to the place of worship where the Israelites housed the Ark.
.- Archaeologists claim to have uncovered one of the world's first churches, built on a site believed to have once housed the Ark of the Covenant, reported the London Daily Telegraph.