These are the remains of one of the Byzantine churches (the so called ‘northern’ church) in the ruined city of Shivta, located in the heart of the Negev desert (modern southern Israel). The structure was probably a large monastery inhabited by monks, some of whose names, like Thomas or Arsenius son of Abraamios have survived inscribed on the 6th and 7th C. tombstones preserved inside. The city itself was founded around the 1stC. BC but came to flourish in the Late Antiquity as a Byzantine regional centre. Unlike few other ‘desert cities’ located along the incense caravan route from Arabia to Mediterranean ports of the Eastern Roman Empire Shivta was not a major trade post and had no natural source of water. It was an agricultural colony dependant solely on the collection of rainwater through a network of water channels and underground cisterns. The system was so effective that in the city’s center archaeologists have uncovered two large pools. Documents discovered nearby testify that these were open to the public and maintained in turns by the city’s citizens. The city had no walls as no armies would dare to march across the desert where it was located. Shivta survived the Persian invasion of the early 7th century but was abandoned soon after the Muslim conquest. 19th century travelers describe colorful frescoes adoring its churches yet today only bare walls and sculpture survive. Its excavated ruins have been recently listed as a UNESCO site but still it is impossible to get here by public transport. The closest inhabited place is the Israeli army base 10 km. away.