Friday, September 11, 2009

Ancient Synagogue Found in Israel

This would no doubt be of general interest to our readership:

Ancient synagogue found in Israel


By Kevin Flower
CNN


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In what was slated to be the site of a new 122-room hotel, archaeologists say they have discovered one of the world's oldest synagogues in Northern Israel.

The site, which was unearthed as preparations were being made for construction of the hotel near the Sea of Galilee, is believed to date back some 2000 years from 50BCE to 100CE.

In the middle of the 120 square meter main hall of the synagogue archaeologists discovered an unusual stone carved with a seven branched menorah . "We are dealing with an exciting and unique find," said excavation director and Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni.

The menorah engraving is the first of its kind to be discovered from the Early Roman period according Avshalom-Gorni who said the site joins just six synagogue locations that are know to date from the same time.

She said synagogues from this period were extremely rare in part because many Jews during that time were in the habit of visiting the main temple in Jerusalem three times a year as opposed to attending local houses of worship.

Avshalom-Gorni posited that the engraved menorah was done by an artist who had visited the main synagogue in Jerusalem known as the Second Temple where the actual menorah was believed to be kept.

In addition to the engraved stone Avshalom-Gorni said they discovered preserved frescoes on the walls with "vivid" colors.

[...]

Source: Ancient synagogue found in Israel - CNN.com

Needless to say, discoveries such as these are not only just generally of historical interest, they also have the potential to be of interest from a Christian perspective as well.

Images of the discovery are available from Getty Images.