Roman synagogue unearthed in Israel archeological dig

By Mark Robins , July 2, 2012
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An archaeological dig in Northern Israel has uncovered new fragments of an ancient synagogue dating back to the Roman Period.

Experts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and of the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed the structure in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq.

Huqoq, located one and a half miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Book of Chronicles as part of the inheritance of the Tribe of Asher. The village is said to have flourished throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods.

The team working on the Huqoq Excavation Project have discovered stunning mosaic floors lining the synagogue interior, decorated with biblical scenes including Samson placing torches between the tails of two foxes, as in the book of Judges, and two human heads flanked by Hebrew inscriptions referring to the rewards for those who perform good deeds.

Researcher Jodi Magness said the discovery was particularly significant because "only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) Synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes". She said "their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes" and "the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue walls suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly."

This latest discovery follows on from the first Huqoq excavations of 2011, which unearthed the eastern wall of the ancient synagogue. The third season of excavations will start in the summer of 2013.

    Last updated: 3:49pm, July 2 2012