10 years ago: Remains of an ancient synagogue uncovered in northern Israel

Looking at the Huqoq discovery dating back 1,500 years; artwork depicting biblical story of Samson

On the 2nd of July 2012 the Israel Antiquities Authority made public that the week before north-west of the Sea of Galilee at the ruins of the town of Huqoq, next to a modern-day kibbutz with the same name a synagogue was uncovered. The synagogue dates to between the 4th and 6th centuries C.E., according to the Antiquities Authority. At the time, Jewish life in the land of Israel was largely centred in the north.

The ancient synagogue has a striking mosaic floor. The mosaic includes depictions of the heads of women, a portrayal of the biblical hero Samson and two foxes with burning torches tied to their tails — a detail from the Samson story in the Book of Judges — and a damaged Hebrew inscription urging congregants to perform good deeds.

The dig was led by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina, along with Antiquities Authority archaeologists.

Jodi Magnessfound the mosaics at the synagogue display of “high artistic quality,” and said:

“This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Huqoq mosaic with female face and inscription (photo credit: Jim Haberman/IAA)
Huqoq mosaic with female face and inscription (photo credit: Jim Haberman/IAA)

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