An ancient synagogue, dating back about 2,000 years (Second Temple period), has been unearthed by a team of archaeologists digging at the site of Magdala, an ancient city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Magdala was an important fishing town in the first century CE on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Also known as Migdal in Hebrew and Taricheae in Greek, it is believed to be the home town of Mary Magdalene.
Magdala also served as a main rebel base under the commander Flavius Josephus during the First Jewish War with the Romans.
“The discovery sheds light on the social and religious life of the Jews in the Galilee during this period and indicates the need for a special building for studying and reading the Torah and social gatherings,” said University of Haifa archeologists Professor Adi Erlich and Dr. Dina Avshalom-Gorni.
“This is the second synagogue from the Roman period that has been uncovered in the village — and the first case of the existence of two synagogues in any locality from the Second Temple period, a period when the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing.”
The first synagogue was uncovered in Magdala in 2009 when an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed Jewish ritual baths, streets, a marketplace, and industrial facilities.
“A unique artifact stood in the middle of the synagogue’s main hall: a large stone portraying the Second Temple of Jerusalem, with a carved, seven-branched menorah on one side,” the archaeologists said.
“Its discovery is significant because it was carved on the stone when the Temple was still standing.”
“Finding two synagogues less than 200 m apart in a locality of several thousand residents is now changing our understanding of Jewish life in this period,” they added.
“The fact that we found two synagogues indicates that the Jews of the Second Temple period were sought a place for religious and perhaps social gatherings.”
“The fact that we found a carved stone depicting the Temple Menorah in the other synagogue highlights the connection between Jerusalem and subordinate communities.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/archaeology/magdala-synagogue-10374.html