Archaeologists in Israel recently uncovered 1,700 lamps, some with Christian and Jewish symbols on them which further bolsters a previously contested argument about Christians in the region.

The find became an “archaeological hallmark” after it solved an “archaeological mystery” dating back to 1934 concerning Christians and Jews in the Beit Shemesh area, CBN News reports.

The lamps provide further proof of Christians flourishing in the region alongside Israelis during the second century A.D., which Josephus previously wrote about. However, until now, there was scant evidence of either community. The lamps were found in the Beit Shemesh region of Israel near the Beit Nattif village, located southwest from Jerusalem.

“We uncovered a water cistern that looked, at first sight, like many others in the region. But to our surprise, excavation beside the cistern began unearthing massive quantities of oil lamps, stone lamp molds and figurine fragments,” said excavation directors Moran Balila, Itai Aviv, Nicolas Benenstein and Omer Shalev in a statement.

Moran Balila, Itai Aviv, Nicolas Benenstein and Omer Shalev in a statement.https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FAntiquitiesEN%2Fposts%2F458416332222518&show_text=true&width=552&height=836&appId

Additionally, a historian and archaeologist working with the Israel Antiquities Authority stated “The figurines and the motifs on the lamps from the Beit Nattif region tell the story of the Judean Hills in the period following the Bar Kokhba Revolt. During this period, Christianity also began to emerge and some of the Beit Nattif oil-lamps carry fish motifs, one of the symbols of Christianity.  The sheer variety of lamps and figurines, therefore, proves that the local population featured a mix of pagans, Christians and Jews.”

This archaeological find further proves Christianity’s presence in Israel and helps confirm the historical writings of Josephus in providing an accurate account of Christianity and Judaism. Josephus is a disputed historian by agnostic and atheistic academics because he wrote about Jesus’s death and the miracles he performed. However, Josephus is also regarded as one of the most accurate historians by most Biblical scholars and researchers. This find helps prove some of his historical accounts are reliable.