When a sensational but unsubstantiated archaeological discovery is reported, my inclination is to ignore it. Since the goal to gain headlines and popularity (and sometimes to stir up tourism), the best way to thwart the guilty is to not publicize their claim. As they know, all publicity is good publicity.
This doesn’t work very well when mainstream news sources carry the story and one gets multiple requests about the accuracy of the report. So I succumb.
The claim by Jordanian archaeologists that they have found the “earliest church” ever is the latest in an apparently on-going competition by archaeologists. According to everything I’ve read about it, there is no basis for this claim whatsoever. All evidence noted in the story runs counter to this claim.
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor says it well:
“Pushing the (date) back to the year 70 is very speculative. (The Jordanians) are desperate to create church sites (for tourism),” Father Murphy-O’Connor said. “I would be suspicious of this sort of hype.”
Be suspicious of archaeologists, pseudo-archaeologists, and government departments of tourism.