"It seems that this monastery, located near the Byzantine settlement of Horbat Hur, is one ... in a series of monasteries situated alongside a road that linked Transjordan with the Be'er Sheva Valley," Daniel Varga, who was leading excavations at the site for the IAA, said in a statement.
The monastery also has four service rooms in the western wing, which are paved with white mosaic tiles, IAA officials said. Archaeologists found ceramic jars, cooking pots, kraters, bowls, glass vessels and coins strewn about the ruins.
The discovery was made during a salvage excavation ahead of construction of an interchange on southern Israel's Highway 31. Israeli officials say they plan to relocate the monastery, including its mosaics, to the Wadi 'Attir agricultural and tourism project next to Hura.
Salvage excavations are common in archaeologically rich locales like Israel, where construction and development projects could cover up or damage hidden ruins. Before Israel's Highway 38 could be widened in Eshtaol, archaeologists dug several trenches on the side of the road and discovered a 10,000-year-old house, one of the oldest dwellings in the region.